The co-operative which runs the Peakhurst West Public School pool is protesting a controversial move which they believe will result in a hike in fees for pool users.
The co-operative, run by volunteers, has operated the pool since 1977. Its most recent 10-year agreement with the NSW Department of Education ran out this year.
Instead of signing a new agreement with the co-operative, the department has sought expressions of interest to operate the pool in the future.
The expression of interest period closed on December 6 and the department is now reviewing the applicants.
The co-operative said they had put their name forward to operate the pool again in the future, but were upset the department had not gone ahead and signed a new agreement with them.
They said they saw it as a move to switch operation of the pool to a commercial owner.
Oatley MP Mark Coure met with the co-operative as well as concerned community members outside the pool on Wednesday.
He said he had written to the department and recommended the pool stay in the hands of the co-operative, which had helped raise funds to extend the pool and erect the pool building in the past.
“Most of the funds needed to build the pool were raised by the local community and P&C.
“It has a strong, proud, local history of fundraising and support and I want to ensure that the pool remains in community hands.”
A NSW Department of Education spokesperson said they had not ruled out the co-operative from operating the pool in the future.
“Once the EOIs have been assessed the department will be in a position to determine next steps,” the spokesperson said.
“The department encouraged the incumbent provider to participate in the EOI.”
Co-operative president John Thomas said under their most recent agreement, the department were in charge of keeping up the maintenance of the pool building. He said he felt the department had neglected the maintenance of the building.
He alleged the department was now looking for a new operator who would cover the costs of any building repairs as well as operation of the pool.
“Our view is [the department] will try and deflect 20 to 30 years of neglect onto whoever takes it over,” he said. “That means the fees will have to go through the roof to cover the repair costs.”
Mr Thomas said ideally the co-operative would like to see the department come to a fair agreement with them to continue operating the pool.
The pool was originally opened in 1961. An extended 25m, heated pool and new building was opened in 1991.
The pool is used by the community on a private-hire basis with no public swimming available. The school also uses the pool.