A copy of the upcoming advertisement for a new CEO for Warwick Tourism and Events.
A copy of the upcoming advertisement for a new CEO for Warwick Tourism and Events.

Jazz fest may stay

FANS of Warwick's Jumpers and Jazz Festival will be heartened by a turnaround on the future of Warwick Tourism and Events (WTE).

Less than a month after the board of WTE – which has played a key co-ordinating role for the popular festival since 2004 – voted to wind itself up, the Southern Downs Regional Council has insisted it must soldier on despite losing chief executive Bev Marston.

As reported on October 13, the board cited legal and financial complications as the reasons behind a move to disband WTE, which is a wholly-owned corporate entity of the council.

At issue was the need for a $6000 auditors' report and tax returns, with WTE chairman Greg Newey saying the board had been of the belief it was a not-for-profit organisation and was exempt from such requirements.

Tourism insiders questioned the board's ability to wind itself up, saying they believed that legally such a move could only be made by the councillors themselves.

In any event, the decision coincided with Ms Marston's resignation to take up a job interstate, with her move in turn prompted by uncertainty due to a review of tourism promotion in the region.

Ms Marston's departure raised major questions about the future of Jumpers and Jazz and other Warwick drawcards, with little interest expected from potential candidates for the job, given it could be scrapped at the end of this financial year.

Mr Newey and Mayor Ron Bellingham said at the time of the move to fold WTE they were confident a new tourism and events body could be formed for Warwick, but said it would be pointless to call for a replacement for Ms Marston at this time.

But councillors have taken a different view, effectively rolling the mayor in a closed-door session at last week's general meeting and demanding a temporary replacement CEO be recruited.

The Daily News can reveal an advertisement will appear on Saturday for a new CEO, describing it as a “temporary role until (the) end of June 2011”.

Cr Bellingham has denied the development represents a u-turn on WTE by the council, saying it had always been their view that a new events body be formed under a suitable legal framework.

“We are confident we will be able to attract someone of the necessary calibre to fill the CEO role,” he said.

“It would certainly be my personal hope that under a new tourism structure this person would be offered a permanent role.

“I believe (WTE) can be replaced with a new entity and that we will have clarity and a good outcome for events promotion in Warwick.”

The mayor would not disclose the salary range of the temporary CEO job, saying pay would be negotiated with a successful applicant.


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