Clubs fear leases will push them over edge

MORE clubs and community groups have raised concerns they’ll struggle to survive under Vincent council’s draft policy on leasing its properties.

The draft “Property Framework Management” policy was intended to replace the existing hodgepodge of individual agreements, where some clubs pay nothing and others have sizeable rents.

Under the draft policy small sports clubs and community groups would pay 10 per cent of the regular rental rate as determined by the state valuer general, with further discounts based on factors like how much community benefit they have.

In May the Forrest Park Croquet Club raised concerns the new policy would leave it stuck with maintenance costs and building upgrades that could send it to the wall.

The public comment period’s now closed and other groups are likewise concerned.

Gary Fitzgerald from the North Perth Tennis Club told this week’s council briefing the club would struggle under the
proposed policy.

“This would provide great financial stress to the club,” he said.

NPTC’s rent would go from $949 a year to somewhere
between $2883 and $3845, depending on subsidies.

The expensive bore maintenance and replacement costs would default to the club’s responsibility unless the council deemed otherwise, and insurance costs including up to a $1000 excess per claim would be
shifted to the club.

Mr Fitzgerald said “the club would have to cover malicious damage and break-ins… the club has very little control over antisocial behaviour and damage to the premises”.

Leederville Tennis Club said it reckoned a fairer rate was 1 or 2 per cent of the regular rate.

It’s not just small clubs worried by the new policy. The draft proposes that state and national sports clubs would have their leases negotiated “based on current market evaluation”.

Volleyball WA, Swimming WA and Gymnastics WA have all raised concerns, as they’re a mixture of volunteers and paid staff, and not revenue-based
businesses.

Council staff said in a report to council the clubs have more access to other revenue like state funding, and rent negotiations would take into account a club’s financial status.

Councillors vote on the policy on September 15.

The current draft gives small clubs and groups a four-year transition period to switch over to the new rate, ramping up their rent 25 per cent a year. Mayor Emma Cole suggested clubs might need a longer transition.

By DAVID BELL

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