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Get the ball rolling

Sunday, 6th January, 2013

Locals vow to continue tradition

 By Erica Visser

A city councillor has vowed to fight “tooth and nail” for the Civic Ball, following public backlash over the axing of the annual event.

Council recently let the 24 families involved know that this year’s debutante ball had been cancelled due to financial restrictions.

Council currently faces an almost $7 million refund which has been demanded by mining company Perilya for excess rates, after a recent court finding.

In December councillors voted to make a number of harsh cuts in order to save the money owed.

One listed cut was the ball, which Mayor Wincen Cuy said had cost Council “thousands of dollars” each time it was held.

However, the parents of debutantes have lashed out over the decision, after their daughters were accepted into the ball months ago and many had spent up to $1500 in preparation.

After meeting with the parents, Mayor Cuy said that he would present an idea at Council’s next monthly meeting, on January 23, that the event still be held in May using a “cost-neutral” approach.

In the meantime, parents will wait to attend Council’s meeting to see the outcome.

Labor councillor Darriea Turley said that she would be in support of a cost-neutral ball and that she “just wants what was best for the community”.

Councillor Dave Gallagher meanwhile said that he would “fight tooth and nail to see that the ball continues.”

“It’s just a shame because if you lose it this year, you lose it for good,” he said.

“I am going to move a motion at the meeting that councillors themselves could contribute.

“I’m sure councillors do know how important the deb is.”

Clr Gallagher, whose two daughters made their debuts, said that he was so passionate about the event that if Council voted against it he would take it on himself.

“I ran the Emergency Services Ball for a lot of years and I’d like to take it up personally to make sure it does continue, not just this year but every year.”

Clr Gallagher said that if councillors voted against Mayor Cuy or his own motions it would be the “worst decision” they would make as part of Council.

“I’m sure councillors do know how important the deb is.”

Meanwhile, local business owner Charmaine Byrne has offered to hold a ball later in the year if the Civic Ball does not go ahead.

Mrs Byrne, who ran last year’s local “Masterchef” competition, said that she could run a debutante ball at a small profit.

“I can’t understand Council saying they’re going to be in the red, but at the same time I don’t think you’d make much money either,” she said.

“A few of the girls have already approached me and said they’d be interested, at the moment I’ll wait until the end of January to see if the Civic Ball still goes ahead.

“There’s probably the need for an annual event...on my calculations you should be able to cover the cost.”

Tania Roberts, whose daughter Jess was accepted to be in the Civic Ball before the axe, said that Jess would rather the Civic Ball than an alternate.

Mrs Roberts said that there was a special air about the Civic Ball, where debutantes were presented to the mayor in front of local dignitaries.

“It’s always been known as being the best, it’s run by the local government so there’s that bit of an air about it.”

Mrs Roberts said that she does not understand where the great costs involved came from.

“If other people say they can run it at cost-neutral then why can’t Council do the same?

“I’d be happy to pay a fee and to compromise.

“I’m a little bit annoyed I can’t plan anything until we know what’s happening, we’ve made the commitment to give our time months ago.”

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