Wedderburn Pony Express 2019 motorbike event cancelled over planning permit concerns

File photo. Picture: GLENN DANIELS (Bendigo Advertiser)

And another sporting event bites the dust because of paperwork… Is this the end of offroad racing in Victoria? Hopefully, someone can see sense and people will be allowed to use Victorian land for sporting events.

Bendigo Advertiser reports:

The Diamond Valley Motorcycle-club has scrapped plans to gather for the Wedderburn Pony Express after the Loddon Shire told organisers they needed a planning permit.

About 250 riders had registered for the motorbike race event, which the club of volunteers has been running for six years, President Paul Roche said.

“It’s a real shame for the community in Wedderburn,” he said.

As many as 350 riders, plus their families, were expected to arrive in town for the event on August 3 and 4.

Now, the town would not benefit from their custom at the hotel and other local businesses, Mr Roche said.

Event suppliers would be affected by the cancellation, including several Bendigo businesses, he said.

The 2018 event raised $22,000 for Variety, as well as $3,500 for the Wedderburn Men’s Shed and Lions Club, Mr Roche said.

More funds were expected to be raised at the 2019 event, he said.

Mr Roche said he first contacted the council to ask about any requirements in May but never heard back.

Yet the council did not have a record of that and its acting director of operations Glenn Harvey said it found out the annual event existed “only in the last couple of days”.

“It’s sad we could not have found out about it a bit earlier and go through the process to see whether it was a supported event,” he said.

The club has never had a council planning permit for the event before, Mr Roche said.

It was of the understanding that it only needed to apply through state sporting bodies and that a council permit was not needed because the event was on a private property, he said.

The event has been growing over time and organisers had expected they would one day need a planning permit, Mr Roche said.

They had hoped the council could fast-track the permit, but that would have come with its own risks, Mr Harvey said.

“We support events in the Loddon Shire and have no problems trying to assist with them. What we can’t ensure, with a fast-track process, is that there are a number of other factors in place with a planning permit,” he said.

“They are around the other state authorities we would potentially have to advise, and get advice from.”

“From the council’s perspective, even if we were to encourage the relevant authorities to fast-track the permit … there is still the risk there could be a potential objection from an adjoining property owner.

“Council has not suggested it would not do anything in that situation. We are more than happy to do everything we can, we just can’t promise that we can deliver a planning permit for them (the organisers).”

The club was open to bringing the event back, with a planning permit in 14 months, Mr Roche said.