Wednesday, March 16, 2011

party in the patch - the unreported side of the story

There's been a couple of articles in the local press about the cancellation of Party in the Patch, however they contained little information from the shire's perspective so I thought I'd publish a chronology of events and correspondence. I want to be completely transparent in this process and be frank about the conversations that have taken place that I'm aware of.

I want to stress once again that I have always supported live music and have invited discussion with the organisers around the development of a youth based event in the Dandenong Ranges.

March 2010
Kye Garrett applied for funding for Party in the Patch through Council’s Grants for Community Program – Festivals and Events funding. The assessment panel had asked questions about its compliance with planning, building and health requirements. The application became ineligible due to concerns around planning and compliance requirements and the fact that it is prohibited in a Green Wedge Zone.

May 2010
A letter was sent to Kye explaining the reasons why his application was unsuccessful. A phone call was also made to explain this, and support offered for further advice regarding planning, building and health requirements when planning these events.

16 December 2010
Kye sent an email requesting funding for rubbish removal at an event he was organising. He said Council had provided funding for a similar event in the previous year. This email was forwarded on to me.

It is important to note the past event was promoted as a "free community festival", regular readers will know I've always been very supportive of community events and festivals.

This year it was unclear as to the nature and extent of the event, which led to further investigation by Council.

10 January 2011
I asked Kye if a permit was in place for the event.

19 January 2011
Kye requested to meet with me during the week to discuss the event.

19 January 2011
I couldn't meet as I was on holidays with my family, but continued to email and said what I really needed to know was whether there was an entry fee, which would trigger the need for a permit, or whether it was a private function, in which case it wouldn’t qualify for public funding through my community ward fund.

19 January 2011
Kye stated that the event would be a private function with no entry fee, and that "everything about the party is non-profit".

He also mentioned Council’s support for the event in 2010. In 2010 I paid for waste removal through my ward fund. However, the location for this event was not known by me at the time and it was on a much smaller scale, where 750* people attended.

*note: Although this number is unconfirmed, at various times the organiser has quoted 500 (as recently as on 3MDR last week), 750 in correspondence and a local CFA member tells me around 20 cars were on site.

20 January, 2011
The Shire's Manager Community Compliance emailed Kye requesting information about the proposed event including the location, arrangements including bands, stages, amplified music, etc. He also requested information regarding food or alcohol sales to the public, the expected number of patrons and impact on amenities, including traffic, parking, vegetation, as well as the time and duration of the event.

Kye did not reply and this email unfortunately remained unanswered until a phone call by Kye on 7 March.

7 March 2011
The Shire's Manager Community Compliance received a phone call from Kye Garrett, and discussed the proposed event’s activities. A number of concerns prompted the manager to check the website for Party in the Patch.

The Manager then sent an email to Kye, reminding him of his initial correspondence from January 20 to which he had not received a response. (Kye had also apologised to the Manager during the above mentioned phone conversation for not responding until the phone call).

The Manager mentioned the Party in the Patch website and advised of issues with a number of aspects of the planned event including:
- It is located in a Green Wedge Zone (which seeks to protect and enhance biodiversity and agriculture), and the event would be a prohibited use
- The event would be a commercial venture because of a fee to be charged for car parking entry, making it a prohibited use in a Green Wedge Zone
- Food would be sold at the party which requires approval from Council’s Health Department involving a host of compliance requirements relating to hygiene and food safety responsibility.

- Approval from Council's Health Department would also apply to the proposed market where "$100 gets you a site and power" where food sales was intended
- The event’s website states "Everything you see at the party is built from scratch ", there are stringent building controls relating to the siting and construction of stages, marquees and rigs, again relating to public safety
- Traffic management issues.

The Manager stated in his email Council’s responsibility in terms of community risk and public safety, and that Council’s Executive Officer Environment and
Planning Compliance would be writing to the land owners of the proposed location to outline these concerns.

9 March 2011
1:26pm Kye left a phone message for me.

10 March 2011
10:15am I returned Kye's call to his messagebank. I did not receive any further voice messages or sms's from Kye.
6:42pm Kye sent me an email, claiming he's attempted to contact me (however only one voice message was received by my messagebank) among many other things.

11 March 2011
I replied to Kye's email at 1:08pm saying I'd catch up with him at local radio station 3MDR that afternoon and advised I'd send a more detailed response "in the very near future".

15 March 2011
I emailed our planners, youth services and Kye to facilitate a meeting, as offered on 3MDR. I'm yet to hear back from Kye.

16 March 2011
I sent an email to Kye offering to match the PITP donation to the Kallista/The Patch CFA of $2,000, as confirmed by Kye on last week's Hills Hoist radio show on 3MDR. I've also asked the fine presenters of the Hills Hoist if it is okay with them to come back on the show with Kye and make the presentation to the CFA.

"Samantha Dunn to The Hills Hoist via facebook
Hi there Hoisters, I thought as a goodwill gesture I'd match Kye Garrett's $2,000 donation to the Kallista/The Patch CFA from Party in the Patch previous fund raising events with ward funding to the same value. I know Kye mentioned on last week's show that the brigade would still receive the funds raised from PITP which is a wonderful gesture. I thought it would be great if myself and Kye could present our respective cheques to a brigade representative on an upcoming and always fabulous Hills Hoist show?"

I'm yet to hear back from the Hills Hoist presenters (it's a bit too early), but I stand by this offer as a goodwill gesture to the event organisers and the CFA.


It's been confirmed to me today (18 March) that the actual donation to the Kallista/The Patch CFA from PITP is $200 (10% of $2,000), of course I'm still willing to match this funding as a show of goodwill and myself and Kye will be presenting our respective donations to the Kallista/The Patch CFA next week.

The Hills Hoist declined the invitation for the presentation to be on their show.

Where to from here
I'm as disappointed as Kye that this event cannot continue, however I must point out that the use of the proposed venue for such a festival is prohibited due to the fact it is located in a Green Wedge Zone and Kye knew this in May last year. There is no opportunity or discretion for me to change the strict provisions of the Green Wedge Zone.

I fully support and encourage community events, particularly events for young people and look forward to our future discussions.

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