Fernhill's rough ride

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Penrith Councillors are disgruntled after they were asked to give approval to the Picnic Race Day at Fernhill Estate after tickets to the event had already been sold.

At the Ordinary Meeting on Monday evening, councillors were presented with the development application for the Race Day to be held on November 9.

However, tickets are already on sale for the event, ranging from $30 for general admission to over $200 for packages.

“This puts Council in a really difficult position – if we said no to the event then we would have every shock jock complaining that Council has too much power, and if we said yes and something goes wrong, it’s lose-lose,” Cr Jim Aitken said.

He said he had some concerns about safety at the event too because developments had taken place on the property without Council’s approval.

“There are have been some developments that have taken place without Council’s approval and Council has dealt with these matters appropriately, but it is concerning and disappointing that due process was not followed,” he said.

Cr Jackie Greenow said she was disappointed with Fernhill given that the ticketing system has no limit on the overall number of people attending the event.

“I really feel like I have been put over a barrel,” she said.

“There are 20,000 tickets for sale… but this does not include children under 14 who do not need a ticket to attend, so we could have every ticketed person turning up with a tribe of children and have no way of knowing how many people are there.”

Concerns about traffic management for future events at Fernhill Estate were raised by local Mulgoa resident, Karen Callinan.

“I live on Farm Road and our main concern is the traffic diversions down this rural, narrow road. We are not against the Fernhill event, but are asking that in the future main event traffic stick to main roads,” she said.

Brenda Tripp, CEO of Fernhill, said that doubts about safety are unfounded and that the event is a massive coup.

“We appreciate and take seriously all these concerns… but this event is a first for Penrith and for Sydney,” she said.

“This event has certainly generated a lot of interest in Penrith and will overall have a positive impact on the community.”

Councillors did agree that Fernhill is an excellent commercial opportunity for Penrith, and so a majority vote saw permission granted for the event despite Councillors Jackie Greenow, Jim Aitken and Karen McKeown voting against the proposal.

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