Councillors deny festival early funding
A request for $500,000 of early funding for the North West Festival’s 2016 event has been denied by Hedland councillors.
The request from Sunset Events managing director David Chitty at October’s ordinary council meeting, called on the Town of Port Hedland to release the $500,000 early to allow for a longer period of organisation.
He said the event had grown significantly and more lead time was needed.
In 2011, the festivities spanned just one day but it became a twoday event in 2015.
In his first full meeting as deputy mayor, Cr Camilo Blanco led opposition to the plan.
He said it would be irresponsible for councillors to approve funding for next year’s event before the audited financial reports from this year were released.
Mayor Kelly Howlett disagreed, saying the festival had brought more than $1 million into the local economy last financial year and had record of accurate accounts.
She named a number of Hedland retail outlets and cafe’s which had reported higher takings during the festival.
Crs Blanco, Richard Whitwell, Louise Newbery, Jan Gillingham and Lorraine Butson went against the recommendation of Town staff and delayed granting the funding.
Mr Chitty said he was surprised councillors didn’t show more faith.
“After the first three years we have never had a discrepancy with our accounts,” he said.
“We feel it would be appropriate to sign off on the funding subject to the results of the audit.”
Mr Chitty said finalised audited accounts had not been released in the previous three years until the January after the August event.
He said allowing councillors to endorse funding early, on the condition the audited statements were accurate, meant Sunset Events could get on with planning the event.
“The community are the winners here and there is lots of evidence to support that,” he said.
Cr Howlett said she looked forward to revisiting the issue at the next council meeting to provide certainty for the community and corporate partners.