Coun­cil­lors deny fes­ti­val early fund­ing

Pilbara News - - Pilbara News - Court­ney Fowler

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.

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