Strip night furore may prompt rule changes

WELLINGTON Shire Council has flagged a possible review of rules governing the use of its halls following a furore over a strip night organised during school holidays in Coongulla later this month.

The ‘men’s night out’ had been organised by the Coongulla Hall committee of management to raise money and had been billed as a live show for over 18s, with full bar facilities.

It now looks like being cancelled. A ‘girls’ night out’ which had been planned at the hall early next year is also unlikely to go ahead.

A Coongulla resident, who asked not to be named, said they were not appropriate events to hold in the council-owned community hall.

She said concerned residents had approached Wellington Shire Council about the event, but council had told them it fell within the guidelines for the hall’s terms of use.

“We are not living in King’s Cross.

“Lots of people are upset; people are very stirred up about it,” the woman said.

Hall committee of management president Danny Clark said the last thing the committee had wanted to do was to cause turmoil.

“We thought it was a reasonable idea and fun for everybody,” he said.

“It was not designed to stir up this kerfuffle.”

But Mr Clark acknowledged that Coongulla may be “a bit too conservative” for the events.

Wellington Shire chief executive officer David Morcom said the hall committee of management had not breached the hall agreement.

“Council encourages activities that foster social inclusion and community wellbeing, as linked to our Council Plan 2013-17 and Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan (Healthy Wellington) framework,” he said.

Mayor Cr Scott Rossetti said he expected the nature of the event and the “not surprising” community responses surrounding this use of a public building would be front of mind for councillors when they discussed the terms of these agreements.

He said councillors supported the hard working volunteers who looked after halls and reserves, but also acknowledged the elevated community expectations surrounding the management of public assets.