Palmer Hot Rod Street Party may be forced to move to Collier Park in 2019 after Mid Murray Council decision

Palmer CFS member Kay Brown, community association secretary Maxine Borchardt, school governing council chair Inala Preston and publicans Michael and Jade Cooke are not happy with the council's decision. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Palmer CFS member Kay Brown, community association secretary Maxine Borchardt, school governing council chair Inala Preston and publicans Michael and Jade Cooke are not happy with the council's decision. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

They might have to start calling it the Palmer Hot Rod Park Party.

Locals are protesting a Mid Murray Council decision not to pay for Randell Road to be closed for Palmer's biggest annual event, scheduled for October 6.

The decision, reached by a 4-3 majority at this month's council meeting, will save ratepayers about $5700 in costs associated with closing the road and managing traffic.

But Palmer's publicans and community groups said it could also cost a valuable opportunity to raise funds for local groups.

If the hot rod street party were moved to Collier Park like the council had suggested, fewer passing cars would be drawn in; fewer entrants might attend, fearing the impact of driving their cars on dirt; and the oval and its sprinkler system could be damaged, too.

They urged the council to reverse its decision, at least for this year.

"We need it for the town," community association secretary Maxine Borchardt said.

"Over the years it has raised huge amounts of money for community organisations.

"In a little town like this, you need something like that."

The local Country Fire Service brigade raised about $2000 at last year's event, and the school and community association about $1000 each.

Those funds went towards things like the town's new playground, a community garden, a defibrillator and school books.

If the council had announced its decision sooner, the event's organisers would have had time to apply for grant funding to close the road, said Inala Preston, chair of Palmer Primary School's governing council.

"(The hot rod show) took so long to build up to what it is," she said.

"It would be a shame if it disappeared because of something council decided at the last minute."

Hot rods line up on the main street in 2017. Photo: File.

Hot rods line up on the main street in 2017. Photo: File.

The residents symathised with the council's challenging financial position.

But "it's the one event a year Palmer has that council has actually contributed to," publican Jade Cooke said.

"What commitment does Mid Murray Council have towards the future of this town?"

Mayor Dave Burgess said there was still a chance the main street could be closed for the event if the event's organisers - the Bear Rock Rodders - or another group could gain accreditation to do the job itself.

Either way, he said, "council will still support the event by providing approximately $6000 of ... event management support, venue and facility maintenance, extra waste management and labour support".

The hot rod street party is not the only Mid Murray event which will be affected by a council decision, in May, to hold events on public land instead of closing roads wherever possible.

Hard conversations with many ratepayers lay ahead, Cr Simone Bailey warned at the council's July meeting.

"It will be difficult to talk to communities about shifting events to somewhere cheaper, but when we do have that conversation, they'll understand," she said.

While he could not give an exact figure, Mr Burgess said the shift would produce "significant savings" which would support the council's decision to limit its 2019-20 property rate increase to 2.9 per cent.

The Bear Rock Rodders declined to comment.

Note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact the council voted not to pay for the road to be closed, but did not rule out the possibility of allowing it to be closed by someone else.

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