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Editions

Businesses left in the dark

06 Dec 2016

By Shane Scanlan

At the end of November the City of Melbourne was still to reveal details of its Christmas and New Year activities in Docklands.

Local businesses are unimpressed as they have been unable to start any marketing or promotions to leverage the seasonal opportunity.

Earlier this year the council advertised a $500,000 tender for three Docklands events, including a Christmas event which was due to start on November 25.

Despite the tender closing on September 12, the council took until November 28 to publicly announce the winning candidate. The council had earlier undertaken to reveal the winning bid by the end of October.

The tender documents called for a Christmas event which developed “a strong thematic concept that showcases Docklands as a must-visit Christmas destination”.

It’s a similar story with the New Year’s Eve fireworks. In the middle of the year the council made a decision to discontinue water-borne fireworks in Docklands on New Year’s Eve. It later justified its decision with dubious claims that public safety was at risk.

It now intends to launch fireworks from a number of Docklands’ rooftops. As early as July, council officers have been attempting to negotiate launch sites with local towers.

So far though, it appears that only Etihad Stadium has agreed to the council’s request.

Council officers have been assuring businesses that buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour would be used for the midnight fireworks but, again, by the time Docklands News went to press, no further details were forthcoming.

The Docklands Chamber of Commerce said council told it eight weeks ago that the events tender announcement was imminent.

“We were also told that this would highlight Docklands as a destination of choice over the Christmas and New Years’ period,” chamber president Johanna Maxwell said.

“Our concern at the time was that this activation did not have sufficient lead time even at that extended period of two months.”

Mrs Maxwell said the chamber had asked the council every week who had won the tender and what was the nature of the activation.

“As recently as Monday, November 28 executives of the DCC met council representatives along with other Docklands stakeholders and were still not given concrete information,” Mrs Maxwell said.

“The small pieces that have been leaked to us privately and at that meeting, without permission to disclose publicly, do not detail the activation.”

“Nor do they provide the information necessary for businesses to adjust to the changes that are being made for NYE – such as the closure of Harbour Esplanade, new lines of sight for the fireworks and public awareness that they will not be on the water.”

“Our major concern is that Docklands businesses can’t utilise this investment in terms of tailored marketing and more importantly some may actually be using incorrect advertising as we simply don’t know what the plans are.”

“The positive out of the meeting held on November 28, is a commitment from Docklands stakeholders and council to work in a greater collaborative manner in the future,” Mrs Maxwell said.

A council spokesperson told Docklands News on November 28 that Fruitbowl Productions had won the tender and had started working on a Christmas activation.

“We are pleased with the progress to date and can confirm that we are developing concepts for the Christmas Festival in Docklands including:

An installation of live illuminated Christmas trees on Harbour Esplanade;

A Christmas Design Market across three Friday evenings; and

Roving carollers and festive characters traveling in and around the retail and hospitality precincts across the month in December.”

“Further Christmas entertainment will be announced once concepts have been finalised. The full program will ensure ongoing visitation to and around the Docklands precinct in the month leading into Christmas Day,” the spokesperson said.

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