TENSIONS over the running of the November Supercars race in Newcastle have ratcheted up another gear, with lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes telling NSW Tourism Minister Adam Marshall she doesn’t believe Destination NSW is doing a good enough job managing the event.
In correspondence sent to Mr Marshall last week and seen by the Newcastle Herald, Cr Nelmes expressed the council’s “concerns regarding DNSW as the event organisers”, revealing that the two bodies have yet to sign a memorandum of understanding that was part of the council’s support for the race.
“I am still concerned that the management and organisation of the Newcastle 500 is not locally based and that the community consultation and stakeholder engagement has been carried alone by [the council],” she wrote.
Cr Nelmes enthusiastically backed the race when it was announced by Premier Mike Baird late last year, attending the launch of the event in Honeysuckle, but as opposition to the race from East End residents has ramped up the lord mayor has become increasingly critical of Destination NSW’s role as organiser.
“Council is committed to ensuring that there is proper consultation with the community and key stakeholders to ensure their needs and concerns are resolved [or] managed in a timely manner,” she wrote.
“To date this has not occurred.”
While Mr Marshall has moved to blunt criticism of the consultation in the lead up to the event by announcing a “coordination office” to run the event, the government’s been criticised for not creating a legislated authority like the one that initially ran the race in Sydney.
“I acknowledge that the NSW government has a clear role to play in coordinating implementation of the event, including community engagement,” Mr Marshall said in a statement to the Herald.
“That is why I announced in February that Destination NSW would create a dedicated Newcastle 500 Coordination Office, to oversee all aspects of implementation ahead of the inaugural event in November, working closely with Supercars Australia and Newcastle City Council.”
The Herald reported last week that the council had asked the state government for an 11th hour route change so the track uses Shortland Esplanade instead of passing through the city’s historic East End.
The request was rejected by Supercars, who said it had been made too late.
But Cr Nelmes said she was “concerned” moving the track had been ruled out, saying it was “contrary to the discussions” with Mr Marshall and Supercars boss James Warburton “in preceding weeks”.
Mr Marshall’s office told the Herald to “refer to the statement distributed by Supercars Australia in regards to the Shortland Esplanade option”.