A TERSE exchange between councillors has led to calls for an apology as the municipal diving pool’s future was put back on the agenda last night.
In an awkward debate at last night’s city council meeting, Cr Peter Sycopoulis came under scrutiny from Cr Jacinta Ermacora after he expressed his desire to re-establish diving facilities at the AquaZone swimming complex.
Cr Sycopoulis forwarded a notice of motion calling for Warrnambool City Council to apply to both the federal and state governments for priority funding in order to immediately re-open the diving pool.
However, Cr Ermacora said Cr Sycopoulis chose not to be involved in the council’s budget process, along with councillors Peter Hulin and Brian Kelson, and added he was being unreasonable for pursuing the issue without proper preparation.
The diving pool motion was tied 3-3 with Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh using his casting vote to defeat the proposal.
Cr Rob Askew was not present at last night’s meeting.
Cr Sycopoulis made the re-opening of the diving pool one of his platform policies during the last council election campaign and said “numerous ratepayers have asked why it has remained closed”.
He called for Cr Ermacora to apologise for last night’s exchange, following an interruption during his speech.
“I thought Cr Ermacora was very unprofessional and there was a sense of animosity there that wasn’t helpful,” Cr Sycopoulis said last night.
“Many people have to work weekends and Cr Ermacora is more than free to look at my roster if she feels I was deliberately avoiding the budget meeting.”
Cr Ermacora said the reinstatement of the diving pool had not been properly examined and Cr Sycopoulis should have sought advice from council infrastructure officers on the matter.
She said councillors Hulin, Kelson and Sycopoulis were urged to be part of the budget drafting process but all three failed to participate.
“The budget process allows all councillors to put forward their proposals for the upcoming financial year and if you’re not there, you can’t expect to introduce something months later,” Cr Ermacora said.
“Council officers have the experience and the knowledge on these matters. I did my research and called one of the officers (to discuss the diving pool issue) and Cr Sycopoulis had the same opportunity.”
Three boards at AquaZone were removed and the diving pool drained during the 2007-08 summer because of safety risks.
Councillors voted in 2008 to close the pool permanently after a report showed it would cost $245,000 to replace the boards and fix leaks.