Council in a flap over Fly-In cancellation

Dr Richard Gates was quizzed by councillors at this weeks Richmond Valley Council meeting over the decision to cancel this years Evans Head Great Eastern Fly-In.

The cancellation was announced late last month with Fly-In organisers saying Councils plans to impose landing fees and other charges made the event unviable.

However, Council subsequently announced it would cover these costs for the next three years.

Held over the New Year period, last year the Fly-In attracted over 150 planes and an estimated 4000 members of the public.

Councillor Norma Thomas said Council was willing to negotiate on the matter.

But according to the media, its a done deal (to cancel), she said. Its too late to do anything.

Dr Gates, who is president of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee, confirmed this was the case, saying lead-in times for the event were long and there had not been a clear answer from Council.

Dr Gates said from his point of view Councils attitude towards Fly-In organisers was not very positive.

Perhaps you would like to come to the meetings to see the attitude there is towards us, he said.

Cr Sandra Humphrys said

the Fly-In had gone through the same process with Council as any other event.

I cant believe that something cant be resurrected at this time, she said.

Cr Mustow questioned Dr Gates over accusations he had made about Council playing out the issue in the media. Dr Gates had claimed no offer of funding to offset fees and charges had been made to Fly-In organisers and had come via a media release.

The first time I heard the Fly-In had been cancelled was through the media, said Cr Mustow. You went to the media yourself.

Dr Gates countered that it was a common practice by Council.

You should be used to it, he said. It happens with monotonous regularity.

Cr Humphrys said she had never heard of a tit-for-tat scenario being beneficial to any process.

In the end, Council voted to levy a flat rate annual fee of $2500 on the Great Eastern Fly-In for the next three years, which would include landing charges and an event fee. However, it also resolved to cover the cost out of its aerodrome account.

Mayor Charlie Cox said yesterday the fate of the Fly-In now rested with the organisers.

Were not going to push any buttons to make things happen, he said. You cant force people to run things they think they cant run. But if they want to resurrect things the offer is still there.

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