Why would council approve this festival?
Dear Editor, There are a lot of questions that need answers about Berrigan Shire Council’s recent approval of the Strawberry Fields Festival to be held November 2017.
In an article in the SRN July 5, it was revealed festival organisers had already engaged local and international bands and were selling tickets regardless of the need to have a DA submitted and approved with consent of council before being able legally to proceed.
Why did they have confidence to do this when final council consent was only received October 4?
Another puzzling point is how some councillors could be so lacking in knowledge of the true facts concerning drug use at previous festivals.
This was evidenced by comments attributed to Cr Bruce and Cr Bodey that were made at the council meeting, when voting for the approval of the festival and at other times.
A comment by Cr Bodey that the perception of rife drug use at the festival was unfounded reveals how short on true facts some of our councillors are.
Here are some of the facts: A report in the Border Mail (November 20, 2016) ‘Dozens charged with drug offences after police crackdown at Strawberry Fields Festival’.
Facts revealed by Victorian police (in the Cobram Courier, ‘ More than 100 drug offences at Strawberry Festival, November 30, 2016) show more than 100 people processed for drug related offences.
Police detected 45 people in possession of drugs, 72 drivers with drugs in their system. In NSW the results were similar.
At the previous festival, it was reported (in The Age) police caught more than 200 people with LSD, magic mushrooms, cannabis, ketamine, ecstasy, prescription pills and MDMA tablets.
Car searches resulted in people charged with supply and possession of prohibited drugs including ecstasy tablets, cannabis and methylamphetamine.
A further question to consider, if drug use is not really an issue, why do festival organisers think it necessary to have a 24 hour medical facility manned by doctors and nurses?
Why the demand for a law firm’s presence at the festival? An article in The Age on November 15, 2016 said ‘ Demand is mushrooming for legal firm to set up its stall at festival’.
‘‘What we are hoping to achieve is to provide preventable legal advice for people so they are not coming into contact with police and are not having this negative experience,’’ a solicitor was quoted as saying.
A man is currently in prison as a result of a fatal crash in November 2015. The accident happened as two men were returning home from the festival.
The driver was allegedly found to have methylamphetamine and ecstasy in his system.
Shepparton News reporting on the accident quoted Inspector Paul Condon of Deniliquin saying ‘‘The road death was the tragic final act from a litany of offences detected during the festival’’.
Police had spoken to Berrigan Shire Council before the festival, asking it revoke permission for Strawberry Fields to be held.
‘‘Once again we approached the Berrigan Shire and once again we were ignored,’’ Supt Condon said at the time.
These sentiments were again expressed very recently by Deniliquin Police Local Area Command.
Inspector John Aichinger said, ‘‘The LAC takes the position that holding of this event is not in the interest of public safety’’.
In a letter handed personally to the Mayor, signed by six church leaders representing the Tocumwal, Berrigan and Finley communities, the point was made that the financial gain that may come to some is insignificant when compared to the human suffering and financial burden to the people of New South Wales in general.
Yours etc. John Everingham Finley