THE Upper Hunter Shire Council voted unanimously for the Scone Cup to remain a public holiday on Monday night, frustrating local hospitality businesses who had hoped to find a compromise by having a part-public holiday from 11am until 6pm.
Cr Lee Watts said while she thought the arguments from the Scone Chamber of Commerce were reasonable the Councillors votes were based on the results of a survey which supported the normal public holiday remaining.
“I can see the Chamber was coming from, but we went with the majority response from the community,” said Cr Watts.
“If people want change, we need them to respond and tell us that’s what they want,” she said.
“When we ask for feedback we need to listen to it and in this case the feedback from the majority of people was to keep it the way it was,” Lee Watts said.
Ben Wyndham, president of the Scone Chamber of Commerce said they had learnt from the exercise.
“I think what we’ve learnt as a Chamber is that we need to organise collectively and then we need to make sure everyone responds individually,” said Mr Wyndham.
“If you were to count the Chamber as the 85 businesses we represent then the local event day would have been more popular, but then realistically we probably wouldn’t get every member to vote on the issue,” he said.
“As a business group we’d really like to see all of the hospitality businesses in town able to be open after the races without the penalties of a public holiday,” he said.
“For people coming into town after the races who want something to eat and can’t get into the few places that are already packed, then it really doesn’t sell the town,” Ben Wyndham said.
Ian Campbell, owner of the Royal Hotel said he was frustrated with the Council’s decision.
“It’s ridiculous all they had to do was make it an event day or part day and everyone could have had their day off and businesses wouldn’t have lost out,” said Mr Campbell.
“It’s the third year we’ve tried to make them see sense and I don’t know how they poll, who they asked and how they came up with it, it’s probably all filled out by Council workers,” he said.
“I’ve had a few phone calls from business people and I doubt there is any business people on Council and sort of said maybe we should all just get together and close at 6pm on Cup day,” said Mr Campbell.
Mr Campbell said the nature of the hospitality industry is work they after hours and it can be very busy, but he said not having penalty rates would not affect his ability to get staff who want to work.
“It’s the hospitality industry, it’s the nature of the business that we all work after hours and it wouldn’t actually affect me trying to get staff if there weren’t penalty rates,” said Mr Campbell.