16 December 2022
Land and buildings currently leased by Swifts Leagues Club at Booval will remain in community ownership with Ipswich City Council deciding not to sell them.
Instead, council will seek to reopen lease discussions with current operator Swifts Leagues Club in the interests of ensuring the facility continues to meet community needs into the future.
Council had considered selling a small portion of land known as Swifts Sports Club in Cameron Park after operators Swifts Leagues Club expressed interest in buying the land and refurbishing the sports club.
An independent community engagement process found 59 per cent of respondents supported the potential sale.
Mayor Teresa Harding said however after careful deliberation, there was unanimous agreement among councillors to keep the land and buildings at 95A Brisbane Road, Booval.
“In choosing not to pursue a sale, council resolved for its CEO to advise Swifts Leagues Club that council is prepared to negotiate revised terms of the existing lease or enter into a new lease,” Mayor Harding said.
“This was certainly a tough one, however council has reached a decision to retain this community asset while also seeking a better deal for the community through a new or updated lease.
“The buildings located on this site are aging and require refurbishment and ongoing maintenance, and the terms of the original 2001 lease required council to deliver those repairs at a cost to ratepayers.
“Council recognises and respects that a majority of respondents to the community engagement process were in support of the potential sale of the facility, with the financial impacts cited as one of the primary reasons for selling.
“The unanimous decision of councillors last week however was made to not only retain this asset for the future but also work in partnership with Swifts to improve the site for the local community.”
Swifts Leagues Club has an existing lease with a current term of 10 years to 2031 which may then be extended, solely and entirely at the club’s discretion, for another 20 years.
Division 3 Councillor Marnie Doyle said the decision not to sell was made in the best interests of the Ipswich community.
“On the basis of the information and advice provided by council officers and external specialist advisors it is considered most prudent for financial risk and operational reasons that council remain the owner of the land,” Cr Doyle said.
“This decision means that council will continue to oversee the land on behalf of the city.
“Should Swifts submit an application to develop within the leased area – for instance, to renovate the clubhouse – council retains the ability to consider this application on its merits and to ensure that it is in the best interests of the community.’’
Division 3 Councillor Andrew Fechner said there was an opportunity for a good outcome for both Swifts Leagues Club and the community through a potential redevelopment of the “tired” facility, consistent with its current usage.
“Founded around 1919, Swifts has been a part of our city for more than a hundred years,” Cr Fechner said.
“At Cameron Park, Swifts Leagues Club was the saviour when the bowls club became insolvent in 2001, taking over the leasehold and continuing to operate the club.
“Council has a long history of working with and supporting Swifts.
“The negotiation of a potential new lease would enable the leagues club to submit a formal proposal to council to redevelop the site in the best interests of its members and the community.”