The Secretary of the Daylesford Speedway Drivers Association (DSDA) made a presentation at the ordinary Council meeting this week accusing Council of obstructing operations of the club.
The Speedway has been closed since the death of a driver, Stephen Douglas, during an event in February. The death has been the subject of an investigation by Speedways Australia and an ongoing investigation by the Victorian Coroner.
“Since the tragic death in February we have been trying to get our speedway up and running,” said Aaron Meakins, Secretary of the DSDA. “This has been made unbelievably difficult by the staff of Hepburn Shire. We have received no assistance, only roadblocks.”
Mr Meakins does not consider the death to be a sufficient justification to close the track temporarily. “There have been other deaths at other venues in this year, one being at a motocycle track in the Wonthagi area, one at Heathcote Park dragway… None of these venues remain closed and events have since been held there.”
“We have lost a considerable amount of income with no assistance form government or Speedways Australia,” he said.
Hepburn Shire Council has waived all lease fees and charges while the matter is being considered. According to their Facebook page, the DSDA has continued to run events (and presumably generate income) at the Darlington Mid-Western Speedway.
The lease that DSDA has with Council requires that a permit to hold events be issued by Speedways Australia. Speedways Australia has not provided such a permit but Mr Meakins asserts that they have received a permit from an equivalent organisation. He accused Council of hiding behind Speedways Australia.
“Council has been in regular communication with members of the Daylesford Speedway Drivers Association (DSDA),” said Council CEO Bradley Thomas. “The DSDA has legal obligations and conditions under their lease which are currently being discussed. Outside of the lease, Council also needs to ensure the site is fit for purpose for the intended use. We are in discussion with various agencies and being guided by legal advice. Council has not been obstructive in the return of racing but is committed to ensuring our respective legal obligations are met and that the community as the users of the site are protected as much as possible before racing resumes.”
The Mayor and the Director Infrastructure and Delivery are scheduled to meet with DSDA representatives next week.
“We are taking the matter very seriously given the tragic fatality earlier this year,” said Mr Bradley.