Northpoint use for Pro

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Councillors have unanimously approved the Margaret River Pro’s use of the Northpoint surf break, despite a community backlash, but gave less strident support to a licensed venue at the site to be run by international beer brand Corona.

Surfing WA mustered impressive support at Wednesday night’s council meeting, with committee member and local surfer Jane Seman, Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chief Claire Savage, and Hawks football club president Steve Cummings among those urging councillors to help keep the Pro in Margaret River.

Although councillors supported the two proposals, several noted the Corona bar was not in keeping with the Pro’s family-friendly and “drug aware” message.

Cr Mike Smart also flagged disappointment with more than 60 emails received by councillors, asking why the business community – spurred into action by the MRBTA – assumed councillors didn’t support the event.

“I’m sorry people in the business community were led down the road to believe the council weren’t supportive,” he said.

Cr Peter Lane also noted it wasn’t the Shire’s role to support use of Northpoint for the sake of “saving” the Pro – under threat of axing by the World Surf League and with funding only confirmed for two more years – but on planning grounds alone.

“I thought it was quite disrespectful of the community and used as a sword over our heads that they might stop the surfing competition entirely,” he said.

Councillors agreed with Ms Seman’s presentation that the Pro helped the local economy as well as grommets keen to get up close to world-ranked surfers, which also supported the local sport.

“Our tourism industry is dependent on a sustained international tourism market,” Cr Pauline McLeod said.

The debate followed a fierce community meeting last month where many surfers criticised plans to use the Boatramps break – subsequently withdrawn by Surfing WA – and decrying the environmental and social consequences of the Pro.

Cr Lane urged Surfing WA to minimise disruptions and delays this year, with the Pro setting up for at least a week prior to its April 11 start.

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