Shellharbour council defers The Links, Shell Cove report

Shellharbour City councillors will have to wait another three weeks to debate a confidential report on the future direction of The Links, Shell Cove golf course after Tuesday's council meeting reached its compulsory closing time of 10.30pm before the report could be tabled.

However, another report that showed the golf course cost Shellharbour ratepayers close to $7 million over the previous decade was the subject of a heated debate earlier in the evening.

Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said while no-one disagreed the golf course had been an ongoing cost to council, at the same time as the council subsidised the golf course to the tune of $7 million, the council spent almost $10 million on the city's swimming pools and $6.5 million on sports fields.

"While golf is not everyone's sport, it does provide an outlet for our community and tourists; it provides job opportunities and training activities ... it has multiple benefits on a number of levels," Cr Saliba said.

"I can't understand why, as a council, we continue to bash it over the head."

Cr John Murray said it was clear in the interests of ratepayers "we need to do a whole lot better" regarding The Links, while Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin said if the council had done "the right thing" and kept poker machines in the facility, councillors would not be having the conversation it was now.

Cr Kellie Marsh said what was needed in the area was tourist accommodation and land around the facility needed to be looked at for that purpose.

Cr Peter Moran said the big difference between the council subsidising the golf course and its pools and sports fields was that pools and sports fields were often used by people who could not afford to fund their own recreation.

"The main group of people who use The Links are middle-aged, middle-class men who can well afford to pay for their own recreation," Cr Moran said.

"There is a difference between subsiding things for a poor kid from Warilla and subsiding a relatively wealthy man who could pay full freight for his recreation if he so chose."

Cr Moran said the confidential report, which will now be presented at the council's August 12 meeting, had a recommendation to "receive and note".

He said moves to lease or sell the course were put in motion by the council's former administrator, David Jesson, in May 2011.

"The community can draw their own conclusions as to how successful the tendering process has been if, after three and a quarter years, there is no direct action the council is recommended to take ... no doubt [The Links] will continue to be a drain on the council funds," Cr Moran said.