High School site in Government’s hands

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      By Tony Foster AM OAM JP

THIS issue of Brighton Community News contains coverage of the community meeting conducted by the Education Department on the development of the promised new Brighton High School, as well as the results of an independent poll of residents on where the school should be located.

Having attended the community meeting and read the poll results it is apparent that the community view could not be clearer. The people of the Brighton township and those in the wider municipality strongly believe that the new high school should be built on the current site of the Jordan River Learning Federation School farm, with the farm moving to a rural location on the outskirts of Brighton. Council has long been aware of this majority community view and we have done all that we can to present this to the State Government and the Education Department.

For more than 12 months, we have presented all the arguments, tried to assist the Department and the Government to reach the best decision for our community and assisted by identifying possible alternative sites for the School Farm close to Brighton.

However, and despite all of our efforts and the strong community view, the Government appears adamant that the School Farm site is off the table. The three sites presented for the community’s consideration are the existing sporting and recreation grounds at Pontville, the recreation facilities in Seymour Street / Racecourse Road, or land on the corner of Elderslie and Brighton Roads.

While Council and the community favour an alternative location, the reality is that despite all our representations, Council does not have the responsibility, power or ability to determine the site of the new high school.

The decision is the sole responsibility of the State Government.

Having done everything possible to assist the Government to reach what we consider to be the best decision for the education of our young people and the future development of Brighton, Council’s key responsibility now is to protect the sporting, recreation and community facilities that are vital for the current welfare and imminent growth of the municipality.

We cannot allow the important sporting grounds at Pontville to be compromised, nor the sports fields and community facilities at Racecourse Road and Seymour Street. With the fastest growing population in Tasmania, these facilities need room to grow for the future, which is why council obtained them in the first place – to plan 50 years ahead!

For example, Pontville is a unique sporting resource for the Brighton Municipality and southern Tasmania. As a result, we have been able to secure $6 million in Commonwealth funding to further upgrade facilities particularly to cater for increased female participation in sports such as cricket and football. Any loss of this area would seriously impact on the successful growth of the Brighton Cricket Club and plans for the resurrection of the local senior football team, as well as on other users of the grounds.

Similarly, the Government’s selection of the Seymour Street / Racecourse Road site would be a severe blow to the very successful Brighton Storm Soccer Club and other users of this space. Not to mention that the site would appear too small by the government’s own measure.

We want the new high school to be developed as soon as possible to cater for Brighton’s current and projected growth. But these sporting, recreational and community facilities are vital for our municipality’s wellbeing, health and future, and it would be foolhardy in the extreme to sacrifice them now.

You can rest assured that Council will continue to fight with all its resources to protect these assets for our community.

It is extremely disappointing that the Government has rejected the Council and community view. It appears to have closed its mind to moving the School Farm to build the high school in the centre of town. For reasons that are difficult to understand, it seems that this is now its immovable position.

Be that as it may, Brighton Council will continue to work with the Government to ensure that we get the best possible outcome for our community and that our sporting, recreational and community facilities are protected.