Putting trust in showground

Putting trust in showground

SHOWGROUND SPEND: Orange City Councillor Sam Romano wants the council to spend $250,000 per year to bring the “deteriorated” showground back into working order before moving to Towac Park within the next five years. THE Orange Show Society could have less input into the management of the showground if a new show trust proposed by Orange City Council is formed, according to the president.

Council general manager Garry Styles suggested a Crown land trust agreement similar to other council areas such as Bathurst at a meeting with the showground’s stakeholders on Monday night.

The agreement would replace the deed of covenant with the show society that the council controversially decided to scrap last year.

While the show society was open to establishing a trust, president Peter Naylor said no commitment would be made until the details were finalised.

“The way the deed was put up years ago the society had some say in it,” he said.

“We really don’t want to hand the deed back but the society and the users walked in with an open mind.”

Council will research similar showground trusts and ask all stakeholders for feedback before adopting the changes, according to spokesperson Nick Redmond.

Mr Naylor said the show society would also look into the situation in other areas.

“We’ll contact the other [show] societies and see the problems they’re having where they’ve got no say,” he said.

While council was aware that some stakeholders wanted to retain the existing deed, Mr Redmond said the council’s position had not changed.

Orange Showground Action Group (OSAG) president Ron Gander said the group would get legal advice before accepting or rejecting the agreement.

“We got a good hearing for the first time in three years,” he said.

Councillor Sam Romano said he was surprised by the new proposal.

He wants council to spend $250,000 per year to bring the “deteriorated” showground back into working order before moving to Towac Park within the next five years.

“I’ve change my views slightly,” he said. “I do support that we get it operational but I won’t do a backflip on the best outcome to relocate to Towac Park.”

But councillor Jeff Whitton said Cr Romano was “shooting from the hip”.

“We need to sit down with the user groups rather than throw money at it,” he said.

“It’s not good management.”

Councillor Glenn Taylor agreed, saying he was open to the new trust agreement.

“Why would you spend $1.25million if you’ve going to move it out to Towac?” he said.

“The users have indicated they’re not interested in Towac Park.

“All this will do is provoke more bad blood.”

Cr Whitton will continue his push for a showground management committee – with representatives from council and users – at next week’s council meeting in a bid to avoid an ongoing “slanging match”.

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