Rainbow Festival back on: Pyrenees Council grants permit 

This weekend’s Rainbow Serpent Festival is back on, after the Pyrenees Shire Council granted a last-minute permit to organisers.

The festival’s confirmation comes just days before more than 10,000 ticket holders are due to arrive at the annual Australia Day weekend event near Beaufort on Friday.

The council last week said a permit would not be given for the festival, after the fire and medical services provider used by the organisers previously was withdrawn.

In a last-ditch effort to save the event, organisers lodged a new permit application, with the council agreeing to have it fast-tracked.

Pyrenees Shire Mayor Michael O’Connor said all parties had signed off on the new permit in a meeting between the council, Country Fire Authority, ambulance and police yesterday.

He said, crucially, the festival’s original emergency management provider had returned.

“All three services – police, fire and ambulance – were all on board,” he said.

“Certainly there have been no compromises of the processes.”

He said while the council was supportive of the festival, it had not been prepared to compromise the safety of festival-goers or the community when it came to the original permit application.

“The traders and community groups were concerned but the overwhelming feedback from the community was that the stance the council had taken was the right stance,” he said.

“We were always concerned about the economic impact for the community groups and our traders.

“There was always confidence the original providers could provide us with what was spelt out in the emergency management plan.”

Cr O’Connor said the police would have a heightened presence this year with an emphasis on drugs, and the mother of a man who died at last year’ s Rainbow Serpent Festival will speak at the opening ceremony.

Festival organisers yesterday expressed relief at the decision.

“We are very thankful to council and emergency services and thoroughly appreciate the extra time required of them to reconsider our permit application,” Rainbow Serpent Festival director Frank Venuto said.

“It’s been a tough week and our entire team are now working harder than ever to produce the most spectacular Rainbow Serpent in 16 years as  thank-you to our loyal fans who gave nothing but support and encouragement when we needed it most.”

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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