The Perth Town of Claremont’s local council have been less than hospitable to music festivals and their punters in the past, after butting heads with organisers for Big Day Out and Soundwave over their 2013 legs in the Western Australian capital; and now Claremont Council is none-too-happy with the behaviour and results of Perth’s Stereosonic

Despite giving the green light to the large-scale electronic music festival early last month, as The Western Suburbs Weekly now reports, the Town of Claremont has since labelled Stereosonic as the “worst ever” music festival in the local area.

Public defecation, urination and vomiting were reported from punters outside the RAS Showgrounds where Stereosonic was stage for its 2012 showing.

“Comments from residents suggest it was the worst ever – this from the point of view of the primitive behaviour of people outside the venue,” said Town of Claremont chief executive Stephen Goode.

Mr Goode noted that the council had catalogued documentation about the poor behaviour of a few individuals, taking photographs of people heeding the urgent call of nature or vomiting outside the Showgrounds.

Police report that of the 25,000-30,000 strong crowd, they made eight arrests, issued 60 move-on notices and conducted 27 drug seizures, but despite the meagre numbers, Town of Claremont’s chief executive is not content with the impact of Stereosonic, or other music events in the area. “If the State Government wants to continue to allow these concerts it has to do something to help with the bad impacts,”

“If the State Government wants to continue to allow these concerts it has to do something to help with the bad impacts,” Mr Goode said: “so basically we need the police to use their powers and to be out in force.”

Interestingly there were no such noise complaints at this year’s Stereosonic, a major bugbear for the local council that has been the primary platform for their grievances with Big Day Out and Soundwave; but Mr Goode did find issues with the the transport management of the event, bemoaning charter buses, taxis, and transport to and from the venue were ignoring the traffic management plans laid out by local council for the event.

In response, the RAS Showgrounds’ commercial manager Peter Cooper said that talks with Claremont council and residents resulted in bottlenecking patrons’ entry into the event, with charter buses being prevented from dropping off festival-goers in nearby residential areas or railway entrances.

Mr Cooper noted that due to closures, most of the 30,000 Steresonic attendees arrived by train and entered through a single entry point after other areas were shut off, leading to the traffic management breaches and transport issues.

“On top of that we had patrols in adjacent streets looking for traffic and groups congregating, and large vehicles were directed away from homes,” said Mr Cooper.

Considering the council’s aggressive history towards music events in the area, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that they will use their complaints over Stereosonic as fodder against hosting Big Day Out and Soundwave at the RAS Showgrounds early next year. Their major grievances against the live music events chiefly being criticising the rock events for breaching local noise complaint levels.

Mr Goode said of the council’s approval of Stereosonic, back in early October,that they were giving it the go-head under delegated authority: “They had no blemishes last year so their approval is in the system at the moment ready to be signed off,” said Mr Goode at the time. “Soundwave is the one that’s caused all the angst and all the breaches of conditions.”“It’s not too much of a stretch to assume that Claremont Council will use their complaints over Stereosonic as fodder against hosting Big Day Out and Soundwave at the RAS Showgrounds in 2013.”

The council is making life more difficult for the two major music events by using the noise complaint issue as a grounds for dismissing their respective applications to use the RAS Showgrounds for their 2013 showings. A rejection from the council will essentially force them to take their case up with Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).

“We told them in discussions that they breached guidelines last year and can apply to us but we can’t approve it under our guidelines,” said Goode early last month. “We have already been asked by DEC to comment on the Big Day Out application.”

Claremont council has already sent a set of conditions for the Big Day Out approval to the DEC, which will ordain whether or not to approve the festival under Claremont’s conditions, but failing that – the application will then be handballed personally to the Environment Minister Bill Marmion to decide on the fate of the touring events; and the latest grievances over the issues with Stereosonic certainly won’t do the touring festival’s chances any favours.

The local council has already made it loud and clear that they’d be happier to see the back of any live music festivals in the area, with Mayor Jock Barker previously commenting: “we are opposed to the noise and the antisocial behaviour specifically related to those two events.”

Festival organisers have found support from the owners of the site they’re applying for in Martin Molony, the chief executive of The Royal Agricultural Society, the proprietors of the Claremont Showgrounds. Molony says the ongoing struggle has been a source of embarrassment: “we’ve got well-known, international acts and they should be supported from the highest levels of government,” said Molony.

As for Barker’s claims that the festival noise had ‘vastly breached’ local sound limits? “For 20 or 30 seconds, by one or two decibels,” says Mr Molony, “If we want these big name acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers to come here, we need to give a little bit of leeway.”

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