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Family fireworks secretly scuttled

02 Oct 2012

Family fireworks secretly scuttled Image

In their last action before being sidelined by municipal elections, Melbourne’s councillors last month secretly scrapped Docklands’ New Year’s Eve 9.30pm family fireworks.

In making their decision behind closed doors on September 25, councillors claim to have been persuaded by concerns about crowd safety.

Cr Kevin Louey told Docklands News he had no idea why the matter needed to be discussed in secret but Cr Jackie Watts said it was just another example of the dominant faction restricting public scrutiny of council decision-making.

She said, because the matter had been classed confidential, she was legally prevented  from revealing any details about the discussion. She said this was a deliberate tactic to stifle debate and dissent.

Because the decision was taken in secret, there is no public record of how councillors voted. And, because the  council will not meet again, the decision cannot be overturned until a new council is elected.

Cr Louey claimed that there was unanimous support for discontinuing the family fireworks at Docklands.

He said councillors appreciated the value that the event brought to Docklands but had no choice when confronted with advice from safety staff who warned that someone could be killed in the crush after the event.

He said the problem area was the Bourke St pedestrian concourse at Southern Cross Station where crowds leaving the early fireworks met revellers coming the other way to view the midnight fireworks show.

Docklands Community Association (DCA) president Roger Gardner said the alleged safety issues had not been raised in the past.

“I responded that we had not heard of such problems in previous years and that families enjoy the earlier event with their children and it draws a large crowd to the area,” Mr Gardner said.

“Interestingly, council proposed withdrawal of the earlier 9.30 event in 2009 but was forced to reinstate it following protests. The reason given by council on that occasion was cost, on the basis that it was too expensive.”

A council spokesperson said reports alleging safety concerns would not be released.

“This item was confidential because the report contained information which, if released, would prejudice the council or any person,” the spokesperson said.

Docklands Chamber of Commerce president Stephen Clement said that, while bitterly disappointed, it was important to concentrate on making the Docklands NYE celebrations better than ever.

He said council officers had vowed to make the event world-class so that revellers would be inclined to stay in Docklands until after the midnight fireworks display.

The council has offered Docklands $150,000 to fund either one or two events in the new year as “compensation” for the cancellation of the family fireworks.

Mr Clement said it was important to cultivate Docklands’ family-friendly image and the chamber would be canvassing members and Destination Docklands on what might be appropriate.

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  • Dennis Hardisty at 10:08am on 05/10/12

    What a bunch of spineless councillors we have representing us. If it is a safety issue, why is the community denied the opportunity to discover the reasons for their decisions.
    The best way to root out the spineless ones, is to deny ALL councillors seeking re-election.
  • Darren Hart at 4:56pm on 06/10/12

    So just because the people coming in to the city, can't mix with families then it just gets cancelled.
    The families miss out on a truly fantastic night out
    I would have never known about the council decision if I had not read the local news letter online
    Thank you Darren Hart
    Adventure Sails

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