Friday, 18 August 2017

Council asked to approved major turf replacement at UTAS stadium

Council asked to approved major turf replacement at UTAS stadium  Holly Monery 
The University of Tasmania Stadium playing field is in need of a complete reconstruction and the council will vote on the purchase of turf stabliser at Monday’s meeting...............  The exact cost of the project is being discussed in a closed session of council but it will be at least $250,000............... The council is being asked to waive the requirement to call public tenders for the supply of materials associated with the reconstruction of the playing surface “based on the unavailability of competitive alternate suppliers able to provide the required product”............... About 22,000 square metres of turf stabiliser is required as a reinforcement material which acts as a binding sub-structure holding large turf segments together. .............. It will form part of a turf farm project to be run by the City of Launceston, which minimises the venue’s downtime while the reconstruction takes place............... The turf stabiliser will allow a new grass sporting surfaces to be grown remotely and then be harvested in sections to be transported and placed on site while maintaining healthy and viable turf............... Using the proposed approach, the field can be used within days of the new playing surface being laid............... According to Monday’s council agenda, by the time the University of Tasmania Stadium surface reconstruction is complete the current playing surface will have been in use for 20 years.

Some question’s the aldermen attending next Monday’s meeting will need to be able to answer for themselves or anyone investigating Launceston City Councils operations down the track,

  1.  What is the actual need to carry out this and why hasn’t been articulated anywhere? 
  2. What is the actual need to divert from best practice tendering process on this occasion?
  3. Are there any inferences, uncomfortable inferences, that can be drawn in regard to this proposal?
  4. Is there any substance to rumours circulating in the community surrounding ‘council contracts’ being “unattractive to tender for”
  5. Which contractor(s?) is under consideration in this instance and what relationship do they have with Council or Council staff?
  6. Does this contractor have a track record with Council as a suppliers and what is their known capacity to fulfill the requirements of this contract? 
  7. Is there anyone on Council (Aldermen or staffer) who might have some kind of conflict of interest? If so what and in what context? 
  8. How competitive is the projected $250K cost and how has it been tested? 
  9. What are the actual benefits to ratepayers in regard to Council operating a “turf farm” in competition with an competitive outside operator or farmer? 
  10. Who is operating, or is intending to operate, Council’s turf farm and what expertise do they bring to the operation? 
  11. What risks are involved in Council running a turf farm and how have they been assessed and by whom? 
  12. When and how does Council intend to provide answers to the questions? 
  13. Can or will Council guarantee that it will continue to make decisions that raise serious concerns in the wider community in camera and behind closed doors?
Presumably this state of affairs comes about as a consequence of SECTION 62 of Tasmania’s Local Govt. Act that states, “The general manager may do anything necessary or convenient to perform his or her functions under this or any other Act.” The implementation of this provision in this instance at least raises serious concerns as there are strong accountability arguments that ratepayers are not being dealt with fairly or in an open and transparent way.

If that matter proceeds in the way indicated by the press report it would be more tan reasonable that serious independent inquiry be set up along the lines indicated by Basil Fitch in his Open Letter to the Premier.

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