STATE Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards has been criticised for weighing in on the future of the Golden Square Swimming Pool, ahead of a Bendigo council vote.
The Golden Square Senior Football Netball Club executive committee said Ms Edwards was "required to impartially represent other valuable user groups of the precinct that are also part of her electorate".
It comes after Ms Edwards penned a Letter to the Editor calling for the pool's retention, as Bendigo councillors considered a master plan for the recreation reserve.
The pool does not feature in the option recommended to councillors ahead of Wednesday's meeting.
More than 61 per cent of respondents to a survey, conducted as part of community consultations, wanted the pool to stay.
The City of Greater Bendigo recommended the pool be decommissioned at the end of the 2022/23 season, citing the findings of independent consultant Otium Planning Group.
Ms Edwards suggested a decision be deferred to a newly elected council, making the pool a hot topic for the October council elections.
She wrote that the pool was "too important to lose".
In a statement, the Golden Square Senior Football Netball Club said no one user group had a monopoly on having hard-working volunteers, providing a welcoming environment, and promoting community participation.
"We acknowledge the tireless work of the pool committee, but there also exist unrealised opportunities for community usage in the consultant's preferred option," the club wrote.
It was concerned the council would be swayed by popular opinion, instead of expert analysis.
Otium recommended the option involving the pool's closure because the most popular choice had "higher long-term operational, maintenance and asset renewal costs and represents a higher risk to council," according to the City of Greater Bendigo's report to councillors.
The recommended course of action was also "more closely aligned to council's agreed levels of service."
The Golden Square Senior Football Netball Club believed councillors ought to back the consultant's findings.
The option Otium recommended was also the club's preferred course of action.
"Closing any community centre is never popular... however a petition exists with over 650 signatories who don't have an issue with the pool being closed," the club said.
"This is hardly a one-sided debate."
The club said Ms Edwards knew decisions on local reserves were made by local councillors, "who are elected to make such decisions during their terms of governance".
"She would also know that conflicts of interest should be declared before such statements are made, instead of further clouding a long-standing, independently-judged debate about the best use of the reserve."
The pool's president works for the Member for Bendigo West on a casual basis.
Ms Edwards said she didn't think it was relevant to declare in her letter, given she had been openly supportive of the Golden Square Pool for eight years - well before employing someone associated with the cause.
She said her support for the pool was "not a new revelation", and she would have done the same thing whether or not the pool's president was on her staff.
Ms Edwards has been the pool's number one ticket holder for some time.
"I'm not about playing clubs off against each other - that's absolutely not my intention," she said.
She said she would have vouched for any user group facing a similar predicament to the pool.
"'This is about making sure all of the user groups have an opportunity to expand and thrive," Ms Edwards said.
"There are other options on the table that need to be considered".