Council Accuses Axed Festival Of 'Illegal Works'

3 March 2016 | 5:51 pm | Neil Griffiths

"Council believes that any competent promoter would have been able to address these risks in a much shorter time."

After it was confirmed this week that Melbourne's Maitreya Festival has been cancelled just over a week before it was to take place, the local council which denied the event of a permit at the desired location of Wooroonook Lakes has accused organisers of conducting "illegal works" at the site location. 

In a statement released today, Buloke Shire Council reiterated its reasons for moving to cancel this year's festival. 

"Council did not want to make this decision and had worked closely with the promoter for more than 9 months to get the Festival up and going," the statement reads.

"The Charlton community and festival goers have been badly let down by the developer which has had plenty of time and information about what risks it needed to address and how it should do so. Council believes that any competent promoter would have been able to address these risks in a much shorter time. 

"The promoter is now using the hopes and needs of our community to wedge Council and push for the Festival to go ahead without the necessary protections for the community, festival goers or the Wooroonook Lakes. Proceeding without these protections exposes all of us to unacceptable risks and Council would not be doing its duty to the community to allow this to occur."

Buloke Shire Council also claim that they met with the promoter's legal team a "number of times" to find a way for the event to go ahead, but were unsuccessful. 

Interestingly, tickets for the festival are still available for purchase from its official website, even after organisers acknowledged its cancellation earlier this week via Facebook.  

"While Council has always sought a solution, the reality is that there is no way the necessary work can be done in time to manage the risks of holding the Festival on the long weekend," the statement continues.

"Council is going to VCAT on Friday to obtain enforcement orders to prevent the promoter continuing its illegal works at the Lakes, to require it to stop selling tickets to unsuspecting customers and to place notices on its website and social media to ensure people know the event has been cancelled. The hearing is also likely to consider costs.

"An issue that has been raised with Council is the likelihood of the promoter holding the Festival illegally.  This would indeed be shocking as it would expose all those attending to major risks. Professional festival staff would surely not risk their future employment by doing this and without those staff it is hard to see how the event could occur. Also, insurance normally does not cover illegal events and any incidents would expose all attending and the promoter directly to claims."

Read the full statement here

The Music has contacted festival organisers for comment.