THE Berejiklian government’s Hunter representative, Scot MacDonald, will inspect the controversial overhaul of the Nobbys Beach pavilion when he’s in Newcastle next week on a short break.
As the Newcastle Herald has reported, a $1 million overhaul of the pavilion that has removed the old communal change sheds – meaning people wanting to change must do so in toilet cubicles – has been widely panned by beach-goers.
Mr MacDonald, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, said he had spoken to Newcastle City Council chief executive Jeremy Bath after receiving complaints from constituents about the situation.
He said Mr Bath had spoken about “inappropriate behaviour” in the change rooms as the reason for the change.
“I can understand the public angst about not being able to get changed as you could before,” Mr MacDonald said. “It has galvanised people, there is no doubt about that.”
The council said the changes had been supported by public consultation but Mr MacDonald said it was often not until “the changes are in place that people go ‘oops’, that’s not quite right”.
He said he didn’t know if the council had any evidence to back it’s concerns about child abuse, but “that’s what they are saying”.
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Mr MacDonald, whose home is in Guyra, said he was taking a short break in Newcastle next week and would visit Nobbys to look at the changes.
“We [the state government] kicked in half a million dollars so we do have a bit of a stake in it,” Mr MacDonald said.
Meanwhile, a Telarah man who created notices at Nobbys urging people to complain to Newcastle council about the situation said removing the old change rooms and showers in response to fears about paedophilia was “overkill”.
Peter Wickham, 68, described himself as a regular swimmer at Nobbys and the Newcastle Beach ocean baths.
“I’d like to see what evidence they have to justify this,” Mr Wickham said.
“Now people are getting changed in full view of the public, the paedophiles can sit on the beach and do their perving if that’s what they want to do.”
He said “taking parental responsibility” for children in change rooms was the answer to child abuse concerns.