Griffith City Council acknowledges event guidelines need to be more clear

RELATED: Vintage Festival MEGA GALLERY, 

Griffith City Council has accepted it needs to develop a clearer policy on what events require development applications, after acknowledging Easter Saturday’s Vintage Festival went ahead without council approval.

Acting General Manager of Griffith City Council Neil Southorn said while there was no formal approval given to the event, neither did council not approve it.

Council said a draft policy was in preparation to help ease the process of development approval application after confusion over whether the Vintage Festival was exempt from requirements under the State Environmental Planning Policy.

Festival organisers supplied information on liquor licensing and their notification to NSW Police but did not submit a traffic management plan to council - an issue council has decided to overlook.

“Under the circumstances, despite the lack of formal approval, council staff were reasonably satisfied that risks to the public were managed,” Mr Southorn said.

“Given the event was not conducted in a residential area, on a site that has previously been used for gatherings, plus the preparedness of the organisers to meet all council requirements, meant that action for any possible non-compliance was not necessary.”

The threat of ‘red-tape’ to hosting events with the purpose of showcasing the region was previously a point of contention among members of the community.

The issue came to a head in October when Griffith man Peter Piccolo was fined for hosting an event on his Mallinson Road property.

Mr Southorn said discussion over the draft policy had been prompted by council’s previous actions against Mr Piccolo, the community’s concern and the legal questions raised.

But Mr Piccolo is not alone in his frustrations with President of the Griffith Business Chamber Paul Pierotti describing processes behind getting events like the chamber’s sidewalk sale off the ground a “nightmare”.

“They make it nearly impossible...every progressive community in Australia has some sort of headline events and we are often told it is too hard here.”

This most recent approach by council has heartened Griffith’s burgeoning events industry with Bella Vita tour’s Cassandra Cadorin saying difficulties had been a point of frustration in the past.

“It would be good if we could do more events to showcase the region,” she said.

"Looking at Destinations NSW there are a lot of places that do food and wine events that we don’t do as much of here.

“It is good they are loosening the stirrups and with the appointment of the events coordinator hopefully we can all make these things happen.”