Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Council and community group at odds over concrete slab on bottom of Newcastle Ocean Baths

CONCRETE BOTTOM. A section of the "rock bottom" pool, clearly laid in concrete. Picture: City of Newcastle

ANOTHER war of words has broken out between the City of Newcastle and the Friends of Newcastle Ocean Baths (FONOB) lobby group, after the council posted photos of the emptied baths revealing an old concrete slab in the south-eastern corner of the otherwise rock-bottomed structure.

On Thursday morning the council sent two photos - including the one above - to the Newcastle Herald and posted them on Facebook with this message: "You might have read in the Newcastle Herald or seen on Facebook concerns from a small group of people that concreting the rock floor of the Newcastle Ocean Baths would stop sand from building up and lead to issues like sea lice.

"Well, here's evidence to the contrary. Our contractors have today exposed a significant concrete slab as part of the existing rock floor. This slab has of course, been covered in sand!"

"Hopefully this puts an end to the debate about the continuing existence of the sandy bottom and we can now focus on delivering for Newcastle this exciting project."

FONOB spokesperson Tony Brown said the group knew of the concrete slab.

"The only surprise for our community group is that the presence of a small section of concrete on the pool floor has only now come to council's attention after their contractors have exposed it," Mr Brown said.

"This further illustrates the lack of proper planning, independent due diligence and effective leadership and consultation by council."

Mr Brown said FONOB called for the concreting of the pool floor to stop "to avoid another costly South Newcastle skate park debacle", noting the heavy seas earlier this month breaching the site.

"Plenty of other planned restoration works can continuing regarding making safe the pool deck and the new pumping system," Mr Brown said.

"This opportunistic attempt of council's leadership to gaslight the known presence of some existing concrete floor patches, has backfired."

Mr Brown said the group insisted that enclosing Newcastle baths in concrete will lead to more "green slime and sea lice" as at Merewether, which needed cleaning twice a week, against Newcastle's once a week.

FONOB had fought to stop the council concreting the bottom of the pool, including an unsuccessful attempt to secure an interim heritage order that would have stopped work on the project for a year.

ANOTHER ANGLE: A view of the slab, looking north towards Nobbys. Picture: City of Newcastle