Rainbow Serpent Festival in limbo

THE Pyrenees Shire Council will fast-track a new permit for the Rainbow Serpent Festival following talks between council and the organising committee this afternoon.

However, approval of the permit application rests in the hands of the CFA, Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria.

Earlier council publicly announced that a permit would not be given for the festival because it had not been satisfied that all relevant safety and statutory requirements would be met.

This came after the fire and medical services provider used by the organisers previously was withdrawn from the event on Monday.

The organisers sought to find alternative providers but failed to give emergency service agencies appropriate documentation to prove their ability to proceed, council said.

Festival director Tim Harvey said the original fire and medical provider was now back on board in a desperate bid to save the event.

"We hope that opens the door to reconsideration on the granting of the permit," Mr Harvey said.

The meeting is expected to take place at about 4.30pm.

The Rainbow Serpent Festival, set to begin in eight days, has been canned.

The Rainbow Serpent Festival, set to begin in eight days, has been canned.

So far more than 6,000 people have signed an online petition to save the festival, with many venting their frustration through online comments.

Mr Harvey said there also could be additional risks  if the festival doesn't go ahead.

"People are travelling from all over the world for this event," he said.

"People are already on their way so one of our serious concerns is that there will still be thousands of people turning up on that weekend and the risk is that they have nowhere to go to.

"That's a concern of ours and we hope the emergency services recognise that."

Last year's event was where 34-year-old Epping man Daniel Buccianti died of drug-related causes, however council said this had little impact on the final decision.

"It's a completely separate issue," Pyrenees Shire mayor Michael O'Connor said. 

"Obviously the death at the festival and the increased size of the festival year after year are all issues that need to be addressed, but at the end of the day the loss of the original (fire and medical services) provider and the inability to substantiate the criteria of the new provider were key. 

"We had no confidence in the new provider and the agencies weren't prepared to support it."

Festival organisers had planned to enforce extra safety measures at this year's event following the Epping man's death, including a new ambassador program.


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