Town relaxes hiringpolicy for groups

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph

Hedland’s not-for-profit and community groups are breathing a collective sigh of relief with councillors voting unanimously to provide a cash respite for hiring Town facilities.

Council members voted 8-0 to pass the “Fee Waiver for Not-for-Profit and non-Government Organisations and Groups” policy at an ordinary meeting last week.

The policy allows for community groups to apply for a fee waiver for the hiring of community facilities at a reduced price, to support the development of local groups.

Hedland School of Dance president Emma England said the school had sent two representatives to put their opinions forward at the meeting.

“As a partnership/sole trader entity to apply for a fee waiver to make access to TOPH venues more viable,” she said.

“Hedland School of Dance was faced with $17,000 worth of hire fees in order to hold our end-of- year concert at the Matt Dann Theatre. If the TOPH didn’t make a change, we, along with other dance schools and groups within the community would have to close our doors.”

Alliance Dance Company artistic director and principal Noeleen McCann said after 19 years of working with hundreds of students, groups were facing their hardest challenge to date.

“The current rates charged for hiring venues threatens our ability to continue,” she said. “I feel charging small groups running activities for the youth of Port Hedland the same rate as a commercially profitable business is unrealistic and out of touch with the purpose of a dance/performing arts school.

“In a town that needs youth services I am always disheartened when we have to fight for our existence — the decisions we make now will be the legacy we leave for future generations in Port Hedland.”

A council officer said the policy had financial implications despite a limit of $1000 per group each financial year.

“There will be less financial fees received from community groups that normally hire the Town’s community facilities.”

“However, there also could be a positive financial gain as more community groups or clubs will be using the facilities due to their inexpensive cost of fees applied.”

Groups can apply for the waiver by meeting an identified need within the community, if it is free or low cost for participants, is not exclusive, is a non-profit group and can provide evidence all members are volunteers.

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