The contract for the operation of the Proserpine Entertainment Centre has been cancelled by council.
The contract for the operation of the Proserpine Entertainment Centre has been cancelled by council. Peter Carruthers

Council pulls contract with Proserpine Entertainment Centre

WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has terminated the contract for the operation of the Proserpine Entertainment Centre by Top of the Range Catering.

The company, owned by Chris Patrick, won the management contract in August 2014, the five-year deal was due to expire in 2019 when the council ended the arrangement last month.

The former community hall on Main St has not been open since sustaining serious damage when Cyclone Debbie hit Proserpine in March last year.

Council refused to be drawn on the reason for the contract's termination stating the information to be "commercial in confidence".

"(However) council can confirm it has taken steps to terminate the current management agreement," the spokesman said.

In May, the beleaguered centre was reported to be reopening within four weeks, in April expected opening dates provided by the Whitsunday Regional Council become vague and "later in the year" became the revised reopening time.

It is now not expected to reopen until "much later in the year" according to council.

In regard to who will manage the centre the spokesperson said council was "considering its options in terms of future management".

Before the cyclone put the venue out of action, users of the centre had voiced concerns.

Issues relating to fee structuring and electricity usage sparked an internal review of Top of the Range's contract, the findings of which were passed on to complainants in November 2016.

A review of the contract was also requested by users of the centre by the Local Government Association of Queensland.

In correspondence to one local after the lodging a Right to Information request in relation to electricity usage and the tender evaluation process, executive officer of strategy and governance, Paul Fendley released details of electricity usage but stated disclosure on the tender process would "be contrary to the public interest".

Mr Fendley conceded there had been "numerous concerns raised by community in the previous 12 months regarding the operation of the contract and there is a relatively large sum of council expenditure involved".

About 18 months before the premature cancellation of the contract with Top of the Range Catering, council commissioned an independent investigation into the full life-cycle of the current contract which "welcomed" participation from users of the facility, Mr Fendley said.

Owner of Top of the Range Catering, Chris Patrick refused to comment when contacted by the Whitsunday Times.