‘Cautiously pleased’: Yarra ditches plan to hike sports ground fees

The chief executive officer of an inner-Melbourne council has thrown out a proposal to charge local sports clubs more for using its facilities hours before a vote, following a widespread backlash.

Yarra City Council was to vote on Tuesday night on whether to increase the amount it recovers from sports clubs from an average of 2.28 per cent of its costs to 20 per cent, over a three-year phased introduction of the plan.

Brunswick Street Oval in Fitzroy North has been home to sports teams for decades.Credit:Fairfax

But councillors and stakeholders were informed late on Tuesday afternoon that the proposal had been withdrawn from the agenda.

A further report is expected to be brought to council in coming weeks.

The proposal put by council officers would have seen the total amount collected by Yarra skyrocket from $16,902 in 2019 to $148,316 in the final phase of the policy.

The motion was placed on the agenda without any consultation with clubs.

Fitzroy Football Club came out against the proposal on Monday and dozens of angry residents had registered to address the council on Tuesday night.

Club president Joan Eddy said she was “cautiously pleased” the matter had been pulled from the agenda, which she said seemed to be extremely unusual in the hours before a meeting.

She said she looked forward to taking part in proper consultations with every club in Yarra.

An estimated 8000 people from 50 clubs use Yarra’s 19 sports grounds and 25 pavilions every year.

A report by council officers said the industry standard was to charge 20 per cent of the cost of running and maintaining facilities and said the fees Yarra was recovering were “extremely low”.

“If the current process and fees and charges structure continues, the result will be a failure to properly manage and maintain Yarra’s sports grounds and facilities for future generations.”

The dumped proposal would have seen the average club pay an extra $3054 in the first year of the policy.

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