Seniors fear secret Schotia plan
A SECRET plan to close Schotia Place as a senior citizens centre has been revealed.
The historic building, opposite the School of Arts in Bolsover St, has been in continuous use for decades as the home for activities for hundreds of older people in the southern half of Rockhampton.
But the minutes of a private session of the regional council on March 22 show council officers have recommended a cessation of Schotia Place as a seniors centre from the start of 2012.
Because the matter was dealt with in a closed session – without the presence of the public or press – the minutes do not contain any details of a report presented to the councillors to justify the proposed closure.
Councillors rejected the recommendation and instead voted to request a further report with costings on other council-owned community facilities.
The minutes reveal that Cr Greg Belz recorded his vote against asking for the report and when he was contacted by The Morning Bulletin, Cr Belz said he was strongly opposed to any move to shut down Schotia Place as a venue for enjoyment and recreation.
“This is the hub of activity for many senior citizens, particularly southside residents,” he said, adding the proposal would cause unnecessary worry and terrible upset.
“Our southside seniors have earned and deserve the right to have Schotia Place as the hub for their activities and I am sure an overwhelming majority of people agree...
“In many cultures, senior citizens are revered and respected for their vast life experience and wisdom.
"I am determined Schotia Place will not be closed to the many senior citizens who currently use it and enjoy many activities at the centre.”
The implication in the minutes is that the officers have suggested closure to cut costs.
Schotia Place is the headquarters of both Rockhampton Pensioners League and Rockhampton Senior Citizens Club, but it has also served the broader community in times of need.
Earlier this year it was used as the donations centre for flood victims and was the headquarters of the clean-up operation.
Maxine Collett, president of the pensioners league, said the group had not been consulted and the proposal had come out of the blue.
“I can’t see why they would want to close it,” she said.
“What would the old people do? They love it. There is something going on all the time and we have to pay to use it. It’s not cheap.”
She said she thought if there was nowhere for seniors activities on the southside, most would not travel to Bauhinia House, the seniors centre in North Rockhampton.
Deputy Mayor Rose Swadling, a member of the Schotia Place Group, did not take part in the council debate or vote after disclosing a possible conflict of interest.