By Luke Voogt
Revenue from Geelong’s council-sponsored major events has plummeted by $40 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Events receiving Geelong Major Events sponsorship during 2019/2020 injected $53.2 million into the local economy, compared to $93.3 million the previous financial year, according to City Hall estimates.
Fourteen events took place, two were “partially-delivered” and four were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, compared to 25 events the previous financial year.
Events in 2019/2020 supported almost 430 full time jobs while the economic output represented a 45:1 return on sponsorship, compared to 53:1 the previous financial year, according to council.
Mayor Stephanie Asher and Geelong Major Events Committee chair Peter Murrihy said the events had created valuable employment and morale during a “difficult time”.
Meanwhile, council delayed debate on free parking in central Geelong in what one councillor described as a “gagged” discussion.
In Tuesday night’s meeting Councillor Eddy Kontelj introduced an urgent motion to reinstate free parking in Geelong’s CBD from August 17 to December 31.
Unlike notice of motions detailed in meeting agendas, Urgent Business motions require a two-thirds majority to be heard by council.
But councillors Bruce Harwood, Jim Mason, Sarah Mansfield, Pat Murnane and Peter Murrihy, voted not to debate Cr Kontelj’s motion.
“[It] was a good … meeting tonight until some councillors gagged the debate on discussing free parking in CBD Geelong,” councillor Anthony Aitken later remarked on twitter.
Council will likely discuss the plan as a notice of motion instead in its next meeting.
Cr Kontelj’s motion comes after council in July voted to extend free parking for two-hour zones but reintroduce fees, with increases, in other zones beginning on August 3.
Also in Tuesday’s meeting, council chose Drysdale Sporting Precinct as the site for a new 50-metre pool on the north Bellarine Pensinsula.
Council has allocated $750,000 towards the facility, adding to federal government’s $10 million commitment and leaving a roughly $5 million funding shortfall, according to council documents.
The decision would allow work on detailed designs and costings to begin, according to council.