Gympie Caravan Park Closed
Due to ongoing health and safety issues, noncompliance and a continued breach of contract, today the Brisbane Supreme Court ruled the current management agreement lease be terminated immediately and the site returned to Gympie Regional Council.
Council will immediately close the council-controlled asset to all current and incoming tourism bookings. This will not affect existing residents within the park.
The park currently accommodates around a dozen permanent residents, and until a decision has been reached on the long-term future of the park, residents will continue to stay on-site. Council officers will work with residents to bring basic areas into compliance, such as shower facilities, with other sections of the park closed and not accessible.
Council will assume management of the park, which includes support and information for any incoming tourism bookings which will be redirected to other parks and sites.
Acting CEO Pauline Gordon reinforced the importance of the region’s reputation.
“A priority is to ensure that all visitors to the region are well looked after and that their tourism experience is as good as it should be. The feedback we’ve received from tourists regarding the Gympie Caravan Park has been very poor and unfortunately a bad reflection of our community and our region. We want their experience to be the best it can be, and we want them to come back.”
The court ruling today included two key issues:
1. Breach of Contract, including the list of scheduled works promised by the lessee within their agreed timeframes;
2. A number of noncompliances in accordance with the relevant legislation pertaining to caravan park operation.
The lessees have held the lease since 2012 for the Gympie Caravan Park following Council’s tender process.
The submission was successful based on their proposal to deliver a number of certified works and improvements to the park, including toilets, laundry, upgraded reticulated water services and internal roadways.
Issues continued to remain outstanding.
There are also a number of outstanding regulatory matters.
“We hoped to be able to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all parties involved and have been working towards this for the past three years. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an option, and Council will take back the management of the site.” Ms Gordon said.
Ms Gordon went on to explain, “It was no longer an option to operate the park due to not only the noncompliance issues or the numerous breaches of the contract, but also taking into account the complaints Council received from both tourists to the region and the long-term residents on site.
“Unfortunately, the situation became more concerning, and legal action was the only option available.“
Council is also concerned about the wellbeing of the patrons within the park.
Council’s tourism arm, Destination Gympie Region, will work to support visitors who have booked accommodation or arrive at the park and assist in sourcing alternative accommodation sites.
Ms Gordon also explained the importance of working with the current permanent residents at the Gympie Caravan Park.
“We will work with the residents at the park as we understand this isn’t an ideal situation. Council will look at working with community service organisations to bring in any additional support should that be required. We want to ensure the residents are okay.”
More information can be found at www.sclqld.org.au/caselaw/QSC/2020/169
There are many moments in life that stand out for all of us. Last week was one for myself when during the ordinary meeting on Wednesday, councillors were told by the Acting CFO,
“When Council adopted its budget for the 2019-2020 financial year, it forecast insufficient cash reserves at years’ end to maintain business operations.”
This comment stopped me in my tracks as we were never told this information, at any stage, during our budget deliberations for the 2019-2020 financial year. To hear this now is both frustrating and more than disappointing. I often use the metaphor of the titanic, but it’s how we as councillors feel and I’m sure how you as residents feel; we knew the iceberg was coming and did nothing about it.
And you’ve got to ask the question, why weren’t we told?
The most frustrating part is that the fallout and repercussions are huge. You can’t get past the basic fact that, had we known and addressed our financial issues back then, we wouldn’t be in the financial mess we are in now where budget cuts are not just a necessity, they are unavoidable.
Councillors continue to work on the budget and look at all options on how we can repair the damage, and we will, but it’s going to take time and we need to earn your trust by our actions.
We are on the right path, and will take another step on Thursday. A special meeting has been called to consider the appointment of a new CEO. And we will announce any decisions made as soon as we are able. There are exciting changes ahead, and a new direction for your Council.