Skycircus called into question

THE Perth City rates should be spent supporting City ratepayers, not putting on a circus for 300,000 taxpayers of WA, according to Councillor Bert Tudori.

He says he is outraged that his council spent more than $200,000 on the Skyworks, when the interests of the city ratepayers can't be catered for.

"This circus does nothing for PCC ratepayers, nor city traders and Northbridge restaurants," he said.

"Ratepayers and traders have been dealt a three-card trick, they have been dudded.

"I have been lobbying for free car parking in the city on Saturdays to encourage shoppers to come here instead of going to shopping centres where they get free parking.

"But I am told we can't afford it. We have to balance the budget.

"But we can afford to spend a vast amount of money on fireworks for 300,000 people who aren't ratepayers.

"I know how to balance the budget - get rid of the Skyworks.

"I have been lobbying for three hours' free car parking in Northbridge at lunchtime as the Town of Vincent has provided for its ratepayers.

"I am told we can't afford it, but we can afford to spend almost $20,000 cleaning up the Victoria Park, South Perth, Kings Park and Perth foreshores after a Skyworks that brings yobos in who rampage through Northbridge destroying the trade of the restaurateurs there.

"Our malls have been described as the worst in Australia and I especially agree that Forrest Place and Murray Street malls are a disgrace because of the fast-food litter that blows around.

"But we can't afford to put on extra cleaners for those areas.

"If the taxpayers want a Sky show to celebrate Australia Day, then let the State and Federal governments pay for it. The State Government doesn't put in one penny.

"Our responsibilities, as elected councillors, are to our ratepayers not to taxpayers."

He said the PCC Skyworks commitment was $200,000, which included:

* $2000 to clean up Victoria Park

* $2000 to clean up Kings Park

* $5000 to clean up South Perth

* $11,000 to clean up Perth foreshore

* PCC also pays for portable toilets in all these venues.

"On top of this, there is the uncalculated costs of the thousands of man hours of PCC staff who work year-round to organise it," he said.

"There is almost a special department for it. No one tracks those costs.

"Leederville has three hours' free parking from noon to 3pm and their restaurants are packed every lunchtime. Northbridge has no free parking and our restaurants are empty at lunchtime.

"I am particularly upset we pay to clean up South Perth and Victoria Park foreshores - we are dumb enough to pacify them with our ratepayers' money because South Perth doesn't want the event.

"Lotteries pays $225,000 towards the fireworks and $85,000 in advertising.

"It is an irony that this council spends our ratepayers' money to bring these thugs into the city to damage the businesses or our ratepayers.

"One group of vandals scratched the windows of all the stores in Hay Street from William Street to John Buzza's.

"They did $40-$50,000 worth of damage," Cr Tudori said.

"In Northbridge, the owners had to take the knives and forks off the tables because they were being grabbed up and used as weapons.

He said that the sale of corporate boxes was supposed to recoup some of the outlay, but didn't.

Mayor Peter Nattrass was not available for comment.

PCC CEO Garry Hunt said: "In 1995 the event was at risk, and the council decided that it should become the event promoter because it gave so much to the metro area, and because there was a need for major events in the city.

"At that time the council committed $150,000 to support it and was successful in getting Lotto as a sponsor.

"The council committed $200,000 this year and the total budget for the event was $660,000 covered by sale of corporate boxes, Lotto and the PCC. The promotional involvement of Channel Seven and 92.9PM/FM is extra to that."

Victoria Park Mayor Mick Lee chuckled when asked about the Skyworks:

"I congratulate the Perth City Council. As far as our ratepayers are concerned, it is money well spent," he said.

"We don't get the vandalism and our people obviously enjoy it."

Asked if he would pay for the cleaning-up bill of his own foreshore, he said: "Not likely. I don't know how it came about that the PCC paid for it but it is their show and we expect them to continue paying for it."

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