Thousands lost as permit saga cancels charity event
A "disappointing" council decision has canned a highly-anticipated community event and reportedly left local businesses thousands of dollars out of pocket.
The Leyburn 100, set to be held over March 6-7, was the opening round to the Queensland ARB off-road racing championships and expected to bring in hundreds to businesses and the event's charity of choice, the Leyburn Rural Fire Brigade.
But after organiser Paul Weidman contacted councillors in order to spread the event, things soon took a turn for the worse.
Despite initial enthusiasm from Southern Downs councillors, Mr Weidman claimed he was soon contacted by council officers who told him he would need an event permit to continue.
Despite clear ruling indicating not-for-profit community organisations didn't need a permit, Mr Weidman said he was repeatedly told by council the event could not go ahead without one.
Mr Weidman said the call left him "in disbelief and frustrated", as in his experience no council had requested a permit in the competition's 25-year run.
"There are similar races being held in adjoining council areas, Goondiwindi and Scenic Rim and all their councils responded with was 'what can we do to help'?" Mr Weidman said.
"A $1350 permit for a not-for-profit organisation is just ridiculous."
The organiser said SDRC was unable to confirm the event would go ahead even with a permit application, leaving ARB with no choice but to find move the event to Gympie.
Mr Weidman estimated the loss would cost Warwick contractors, the booked-out Leyburn Hotel, hire companies, and vendors into the thousands.
"It's pretty embarrassing for the Southern Downs really," he said.
"Conservatively, it will cost Warwick at least $30,000 income, from the companies hired to the knock on stuff. The beauty of our location is that everyone has to stop in Warwick for fuel and supplies.
"The true cost may never be known."
A SDRC spokeswoman said an event application was never submitted and looked forward to working with the organisers in the future.
"(The) council has a strong record of working with community groups to facilitate events throughout the region," she said.
"Recently (SDRC) ran a free events bootcamp for event organisers and is in the process of
drafting an events strategy."
Despite disappointment, Mr Weidman had been in conversation with SDRC CEO Dave Burges since and was happy to see positive headway for the future.
"To his credit, the CEO has been very good about it and promised to get to the bottom of it," he said.
"I hope that is the case because we wanted this to be an event for the whole of Warwick, like Leyburn Sprints, something on a state level people could put on the calendar every year.
"But if council insists on doing this stuff, they're not going to get events."