Newcastle Council will ask the state government and the organisers of this year’s V8 Supercars event for an 11th hour route change so the track uses Shortland Esplanade instead of passing through the city’s historic East End.
The Herald reported on Monday that the idea had been considered by the state government’s peak tourism body – Destination NSW – but abandoned, because the council would not foot the $2 million relocation bill.
However at Tuesday’s meeting councillors agreed that if all parties were on board with the proposal, the costs could be shared between the council, Destination NSW and Supercars Australia.
Community consultation will also be carried out, but it is understood the residents involved have already expressed support for the proposal.
Acting interim chief executive officer Frank Cordingley warned the councillors that it was not feasible to change the route just six months out from the race, because the planning involved alone would take three months and construction longer again.
But Labor councillor Stephanie Posniak, who put the motion forward, said she wanted a “firm denial” from state government before it was ruled out.
“We’re not just talking about one year, we’re talking about five, possibly 10 years,” she said.
“Why rule out the possibility that if it can’t be achieved in this year, it can be achieved and improve the chances of the success of the event and the happiness of residents in other years?”
Liberal Cr David Compton conceded he may have preferred a different route but described it as a “fantasy” to think changes could be made so late in the piece.
“It just flies in the face of this council making important decisions and standing by those decisions,” he said.
The council also voted to bring forward $8.8 million of renewal works in city centre so it could “piggyback” on the work being carried out by the Supercars organisers.
Earlier in the meeting, there was a clash between Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and manager of legal services Frank Giordano over names that had been redacted in minutes of a previous council meeting.
The section of the minutes dealt with conversations between several of the councillors during the recruitment of the new interim CEO and Mr Giordano said including the names would “potentially be defamatory”.
Cr Nelmes rebuked Mr Giordano, describing the defamation claim as a “very big assumption”.
It’s understood the minutes are also the subject of a code of conduct complaint.