Christmas event quashed

162707 Picture: Victoria Stone-Meadows

By Olivia Condous

An event in Caroline Springs has had potential plans quashed for a new Christmas event in the municipality that would have seen funding taken away from a community organisation and put into a fresh council event.

A report presented to the August 15 council meeting recommended council plan and deliver an annual Christmas event in Caroline Springs, in addition to the Carols by Candlelight event held in Melton.

The current Caroline Springs event is run by religious group In Church, which has received $40,000 in funding annually from council since 2017.

The report proposed that the funding be withdrawn from In Church and used for a council-run event, which would include community performances, a twilight Christmas market, roving entertainment and more.

The report stated that no public consultation had been undertaken in preparing the report.

Hume Councillor Steve Abboushi proposed an alternate motion that council provide funding to In Church this year and consult with the community about the future of Christmas events, which was carried unanimously.

Cr Abboushi said that convincing his fellow councillors to vote against a council-run event in Caroline Springs did not come easily.

“I contacted the church the day of the meeting, to talk to the pastor and see how he was feeling about it and he had no idea that this was even on the cards,” Cr Abboushi said.

“I didn’t think it was the right thing to do … the church feedback was that planning had already commenced for this year,” he said.

Cr Abboushi said he’d convinced councillors that it was too close to Christmas to make the change, but the option for a second council-run event would be reviewed next year.

In Church spokesperson Christine Pettit said the organisation was “very grateful” to receive funding for another year and had always created an event where everyone was welcome.

“We’re so grateful that we can do it live this year, because the last few years have been online, we’re really looking forward to seeing everybody and everybody’s welcome.”