Your local government authority is a key stakeholder for your club.
A positive relationship with your local council ensures they understand your club’s needs and your goals for any future development or support you may require. It will also mean your club management is kept up to date on any Council plans to change things in your local area which may affect your operations.
Your local council:
- can provide ongoing advice and support through their Recreation Officer or Community Services Officer appointed for this purpose;
- may have funding programs available to assist in developing sport and recreation facilities and projects or can put in touch with State or Federal based programs;
- may have a Sport and Recreation Council or Committee that can assist with policies and issues;
- may have a club development program to assist clubs with their management and administration.
It may be helpful for your club to nominate a local government contact person who is responsible for liaising with the council. In the first instance, this person could set up an initial meeting to discuss how your organisation and local council could work effectively together.
The type of agreement your club has with the council often reflects the relationship or philosophy the council has on community organisations such as your club.
Common agreements may be:
- Leases – exclusive occupation.
- Licenses – shared use agreements where access can be restricted to the sporting season
- Permits – normally for a ‘one-off’ event or activity.
While leases may seem the ‘best’ way to go for your organisation, it is important to know that council facilities belong to the community and these facilities are required to meet a range of community needs, not just your club’s. This notion is generally reflected as a ‘clause’ in most management agreements.
While this ‘sharing’ may be difficult in the case of your clubroom, it doesn’t prevent you from entering into sub leases with other community groups to increase the use of your facility, share your overheads, and ultimately increase opportunities for the broader community to participate in lawn bowls.
However, before doing so, contact your council’s property officer to seek permission, ensure you are not exposing your club to increased risk, and to help council keep a track of who is using the community facility and how your club is meeting broader community aims.
Responsibility and ownership
Each management agreement outline what the council will accept responsibility for e.g. maintenance of certain infrastructure and what remains the responsibility o the club to maintain. In most instances the club responsibility is heavily subsidised by the council.
Any improvements you wish to make to the facilities will generally need approval, depending on the extent to the works involved. If you are unsure as to your responsibility and ownership of improvements, refer to the council’s property officer and/or your management
Tips for establishing a good relationship with your local government:
- Get to know your council through elected members, senior officers and recreation and maintenance staff. Having them as patron’s or special guests is a great option.
- Invite council representatives to club functions, being hospitable, asking them to present trophies and, most importantly, show appreciation for the services they provide. For example, some clubs offer the first bowl of the season to their local council member.
- Understand the problems that your council is having and help them with issues that affect your club. For example, establish a joint committee to examine your sport’s development in the district.
- Offer to assist in coaching and recreation programs of the council and your state association.
- Acknowledge your council whenever you can, particularly in any public arena.
- Don’t complain, but rather approach problems constructively and seek “win-win” solutions.
- Encourage a variety of community groups to take an interest in your sport by inviting them to participate in club activities.
- Be good neighbours and form relationships with those who own property adjacent to your ground (complaints to the council will tarnish your image immediately).
- Send your council contact regular updates on what’s going on at your club. Getting them on your newsletter or email distribution list is simple and can be very effective.