This weekend’s Weerama festival hangs in the balance as festival management and Wyndham council hold crisis talks over traffic management and rubbish collection for the event.
As of Tuesday, the festival committee had still not secured a permit to run the day-long festival, which is planned for the Watton Street and Station Place precinct this Sunday from 10am until 4pm.
Wyndham council city life director Jenny McMahon said the Weerama committee had called on the council to cover the costs of traffic management and rubbish collection just four weeks ago.
Ms McMahon said it would “set a costly and unmanageable precedent” if the council agreed to foot this bill, which will amount to more than $10,000.
“Given that other organising committees are required to submit funding requests as part of a structured grants program, and well in advance of an event, it was deemed an inappropriate use of ratepayer funds in this instance.”
Ms McMahon added that the council could not provide a permit for the running of a public event without the festival organiser supplying both a traffic management plan and supporting documentation that details how it would be carried out and funded.
“In this instance, the Weerama festival committee indicated that they were unable to fulfil this requirement.
“Given that traffic management is a key requirement of the event permit conditions, a permit could not be issued without this important safety measure.
“The decision whether to cancel the event or not is with the Weerama committee.
“The importance of risk and safety management must be paramount at any public event. If an event organiser cannot demonstrate that safety is being appropriately managed, a permit cannot be issued.”
Weerama president Marcel Mahfoud said the committee had the money to fund traffic management and rubbish collection, and vowed the festival would go ahead as planned.
“The Weerama festival committee is working hard to deliver the 2017 event,” Mr Mahfoud said.
“This has been made possible with the support from sponsors and local business.
“Although we have engaged our own traffic management company, we have attempted to negotiate with council around support for traffic management and rubbish collection,” he said.
This weekend’s event is due to include the annual Weerama parade along Watton Street, market stalls, the W Factor talent competition and the Werribee Tigers’ season launch.
It’s the second time in recent years that the Weerama festival has faced the axe. The festival was cancelled in 2015 when the council refused grant money to fix committee governance issues, including administration and book-keeping.