Long discussion over long lunch

Councillors debated the allocation of $20,000 in funding for up to three years for the Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce-hosted event for more than 25 minutes at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The funds allocation formed part of the City’s major event sponsorship and major grants under the 2015/2016 community grants program (CGP) round three.

Four councillors – Lee Downham, Joy Stewart, Matthew Whitfield and Leigh Liley – opposed the allocation of funds, while six voted in favour to endorse the grants.

Cr Downham said he did not oppose the City supporting the event, but took issue with the length of support.

“The $20,000 should be for one year, not three years,” he said.

“The City provided ($12,000) funding last year, we’re funding it this year and now guaranteeing it for three years.

“I think RKCC should lead by example and look at other ways to sustain the event.”

Cr Stewart opposed it because only a “select few who could afford the tickets” could attend and the Rotary Club of Palm Beach Rotary Beachside Festival did not get three years of funding as it requested.

Cr Whitfield echoed that sentiment.

He said if other events could not get three years of funding, why should the chamber of commerce.

But Mayor Barry Sammels said the community grants program was “set up exactly for events like this”.

“Council has talked in the past about Rockingham having its own iconic event, this is one and it is money well spent,” Cr Sammels said.

Cr Chris Elliott described the Long Table Lunch as “an outstanding event” and regardless of who was running it, “it deserves the full $20,000”.

The funding for the three-year duration will be used to pay for a marquee ($12,000), containers ($5000) and security ($3000).

A condition of the funding also stipulated Mayor Sammels be provided an opportunity to speak at the event.