Club abandons air show

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PENINSULA Aero Club has cancelled next year’s air show.

Club president Jack Vevers said the club had been unable to reach agreement with Mornington Peninsula Shire over a permit for the event.

He said the shire’s “new permit process” was “unworkable” and time had run out to organise the scheduled Sunday 8 March 2020 air show.

The mayor Cr David Gill on Monday said the club’s cancelling of the air show was “game playing and childish”.

“We offered to fast track a permit and give them a draft permit, but they’ve led us down the garden path so they can blame council,” he said.

“Every other major event on the peninsula has to apply for a permit.

“The [air show] is an iconic event and we don’t want to lose it. What we do want is a master plan for the airfield that can be enforced.”

The shire last month said the aero club should conform to planning rules and apply for a permit, a move Mr Vevers branded as “blackmail” (“Shire to back air show if permit sought” The News 3/7/19).

Mr Vevers wanted the shire to accept a secondary consent application as in the past: “We normally just write to the council and fill in a form which gives us a period to vary our permit so we can run the air show – say, seven days. It’s never been an issue before.”

However, this time it became an issue after a legal investigation ordered by council found private businesses were operating from the Tyabb airfield without the required permits.

“We are incredibly disappointed that the shire’s letters of direction to stop the operation of the airport have caused so much disruption and blocked participation and access to the resources we need to run the event,” Mr Vevers said in his online “letter to members and the Tyabb community”.

“We are unable to run the air show safely and effectively.

“While we would have been willing to continue discussions, unfortunately, we have simply run out of the lead time required to plan and stage the event. It’s a lot of work as you might imagine involving hundreds of people.”

Mr Vevers said the club felt “terribly sorry for all of the charities, and for all the businesses and sponsors who have helped us”. “Unfortunately, we have reached a point of no return and have done all we could to stretch the timeline to give the shire space to fix the situation to no avail.”

Mr Vevers said the air show had become “a regional highlight for tens of thousands of people” since its start in 1968, raising more than a $1 million for charities and volunteer organisations.

“We are hopeful that, over time, we will find a solution to once again work with the shire to allow the air show to go ahead in 2022.”

Stephen Taylor and Keith Platt

First published in the Western Port Times – 14 August 2019

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