New Year's Eve fireworks cancelled in Port Macquarie with special donation to Wauchope Show Society

Celebration: Wauchope Show Society members Scott Balmer, Anne Watkins, Trish Douglas, Neil Coombes and Heather Lattimore.
Celebration: Wauchope Show Society members Scott Balmer, Anne Watkins, Trish Douglas, Neil Coombes and Heather Lattimore.

Port Macquarie's premier fireworks celebration has been cancelled with funding going towards the Wauchope Show Society instead.

The unanimous decision to reallocate the funding from the New Year's Eve sky show to the society was made at the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council meeting on Wednesday, December 12.

The funding will help recoup some expenses incurred in the society's role as a venue for safe relocation centre for people and animals in the recent fire response.

Wauchope Show Society's president Neil Coombes said it was like Christmas had come early for all the volunteers.

The society plans to use the funding to construct yards for horses and cages for larger animals in the tractor sheds.

He said the set-up will be multi-purpose as it can be used for the show or in the event of a future crisis.

The are 17 volunteers who are directors on the society's board, but Mr Coombes said many more helping hands.

Mr Coombes said the community might not realise the showground is owned by the society, not the council.

He said it takes the efforts of many volunteers to ensure the showground keeps running.

In addressing the council meeting, mayor Peta Pinson said it's going to bevery sad for the community not to see fireworks at 9pm or midnight on New Year's Eve.

She said people can't ignore the community has been quite challenged over the last couple of months.

Cr Pinson commended the society for acting "selflessly" in welcoming people displaced by the fires, including residents, animals and travellers who became stranded.

"Reallocating this funding is the least we can do for a wonderful organisation like the Wauchope Show Society," she said.

Councillors are set to review their support for future fireworks events after community engagement. This will be completed in the first half of 2020.

In November, fireworks at the Countdown to Christmas street parade and tree lighting were cancelled due to the ongoing bushfire crisis.

Councillors also agreed to waive a number of fees for residents who had properties destroyed or damaged in the bushfires.

The waiving of fees applied for interest on rates and charges, water and sewerage charges, waste management and tipping fees, and relevant fees and charges associated with building or construction.

Councillors voted unanimously to waive the fees, despite Cr Alley raising concerns about insurance companies not meeting their obligations.

Council's general manager Craig Swift-McNair said the motion applied regardless of who is, or isn't, insured.

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