Castle Hill Showground community groups slapped in the face

Tenants of Castle Hill Showground say volunteers have been ‘‘slapped in the face’’ by The Hills Council. 

More than 130 people — including showground licencees, facility users and concerned residents — attended a mediation meeting on Wednesday night with the council to discuss the future of the showground.

At the meeting community groups Castle Hill Players, Nor-West Canine Association and the Castle Hill and Hills District Agricultural Society were offered a one-year extension on their licences to occupy portions of the showground which is on Crown Land.  

They must accept the licence proposal before August 15. 

If they don’t, the groups will have to revert to a casual hire program for the community facilities. 

The council has allocated $140,000 towards a study for a leisure precinct plan at the showground. 

In addition, the North West Rail Link’s Showground Station Precinct has been nominated as part of the state government’s Urban Activation Precinct program along with the rail link’s Bella Vista and Kellyville stations. 

‘‘The showground has served the community very well for the last 100 years, but we are now looking at how it can be enjoyed by more and more residents over the next 100 years,’’ Cr Byrne said. 

‘‘It is an under-utilised gem and we want to accommodate current users while opening it up to residents and visitors.”

But president of Castle Hill and Hills District Agricultural Society Peter Gooch said that wasn’t the case.  

‘‘The show society submission to the NSW government White Paper on Crown Land worked out there was at 300,000 people using the showground throughout the year and that included all known users of the showground,’’ Mr Gooch said.  

President of the Nor-West Canine Association Ray Parker said the group was back in limbo. 

‘‘Stressed and disappointed and once again volunteers have been slapped in the face because now the 355 committee of the council doesn’t exist anymore,’’ Mr Parker said. 

‘‘When we were the 355 we could recommend funds for expenditure and also ask council for funds but now we can’t do that.’’

Castle Hill Players president Stephen Snars said the theatre group could not plan for future performances because they could not be guaranteed a long-term licence.

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