June 13, 2024

Following criticism from ratepayers, the Parramatta City Council decided to reduce its original $12.4 million commitment to the Parramatta Eels NRL teams to just $15.5 million over three years.

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The original agreement, which was signed in a private meeting back in December, called for cash to be secured for the women’s division and for the council logo to be shown on the NRLW shirts. Rate-paying citizens objected to the agreement and demanded that the matter be discussed openly rather than in private.

Independent councilwoman Kellie Darley demanded that the agreement be canceled, claiming it was out of step with community expectations. Darley withdrew her motion after the council decided to hold a closed session on Monday, citing the lack of public access to the discussion.

The topic will once more be debated behind closed doors, she stated before to the meeting, despite opposition from the community and the fundamental goal of the Local administration Act, which is to provide an open and transparent administration.

In spite of this, a new agreement was reached yesterday night for $383,500 a year for three years.

Nine council members initially supported the move, while only four opposed it, among them Parramatta Lord Mayor Pierre Esber.

The deal’s supporter, councillor Michelle Garrard, was taken aback by the outcry. “All possible options were presented to council members,” the spokesperson stated. “I removed all box seats and other similar items, made sure there was no corporate advantage to council members, and maintained an emphasis on community engagement.

It’s a business collaboration. We’re not giving the Eels free cash to spend however they choose. Deliverables will be present.

Many disgruntled citizens voiced their opinions in the public forum before to the meeting, labeling the agreement a waste of money and requesting that it be applied to other projects like building roads, purchasing commodities, or providing services that would better serve the community. The agreement was backed by one supporter who stated that ratepayers would just have to pay $1.50 apiece.

When the agreement was first made, the United Services Union opposed the council’s collaboration with the rugby league team, and in December, trucks in the CBD were spotted bearing large signs criticizing the choice. The council had told them to cease.

Both Parramatta City Council and the Parramatta Eels were contacted for comment but have not yet responded.

 

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