UPDATE 07/10/13: Tone Deaf originally reported that the River Rock Music Festival had been cancelled as a result of pressure from Somerset Regional Council. Since the publication of the story, the festival’s promoters – River Rock Music – have reached out to say that the event has not been cancelled and that they are currently in negotiations with local council to green light the event.

Mario Tedeschi of Rockden Promotions tells Tone Deaf that the event was never under legal threat by Somerset Regional Council, and that the original Gatton Star article reporting as much was factually inaccurate. With a follow-up report from the regional paper noting that local council had done a “backflip” on their original ruling over safety concerns with River Rock.

Original Story: A regional music festival has been cancelled just five weeks from its official kick-off because local council are not satisfied by organisers’ safety precautions and organisation.

The River Rock Music Festival was to take place on Saturday 9th November in Toogoolawah, in rural Queensland, but after Somerset Regional Council threatened to take legal action to stop it from going ahead due to safety concerns and non-compliance with local laws, the event has had the plug pulled, as the Gatton Star reports.

Festival organisers Rockden Promotions were to present River Rock Music at a 32-hectare site at Dead Horse Lane, with an expected attendance of 5,000 heading to the rural festival to catch the 24-strong lineup, including an AC/DC tribute band, Black Label Australia (featuring Rose Tattoo frontman Angry Anderson), Shinobi, and more.

However, Somerset Regional Council unanimously voted against the festival going ahead, launching legal action against the Queensland-based promoters from hosting the event, claiming Rockden failed to make requisite arrangements to meet public safety requirements.

Somerset mayor Graeme Lehmann says Toogoolwah Police and Queensland Ambulance Service had both advised Council that River Rock Music attendees would be at extremely high risk due to lack of planning and notification to emergency services at the festival site and accompanying camping grounds. “It was to bring something to Toogoolawah and to put them on the map… I’ve bent over backwards and did everything and they reject it.”

“Council is not prepared to give the green light to an event that carries a high degree of risk to those who attend,” argued Cr Lehmann. “Council’s engineers consider Dead Horse Lane is not adequate for the anticipated level of traffic likely to be generated by the event and note that no traffic management plan has been provided.”

Cr Lehmann added that: “The event would be better suited to be held on another date next year, when all the necessary planning has been conducted.”

The Somerset Mayor added that Rockden Promotions had not provided public liability insurance details for the event, while Council had additional concerns about the suitability of the Dead Horse Lane site from a “noise, dust, and traffic movements perspective.”

Mario Tedeschi of Rockden Promotions however, is shocked by the Council’s objections, saying the festival had done everything it could to satisfy council requirements while noting River Rock Music Festival took crowd safety as a high priority .

“It was to bring something to Toogoolawah and to put them on the map,” Mr Tedeschi said of the event. “I’ve bent over backwards and did everything and they reject it,” he added of the Council’s ruling, noting he’d alerted them of festival plans as far back as May.

“I got stuffed around for three months… That’s their loss and I’ll take it elsewhere then,” adds Mr Tedeschi.

It’s not the first time that the actions of local council have impeded a music festival (and certainly not the last). More recently, Tasmania’s Breath of Life festival lost out on $20,000 in sponsorship money from local council, potentially forcing organisers to relocate the event away from its traditional Launceston home while putting its local bands stage at risk.

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