How many more times will this council permit the Melbourne Racing Club to get away with blue murder? How many more times will permits not be worth the paper they are written on? Or to be even more cynical, what kind of collusion is occurring between the MRC and council?

The latest outrage concerns the use of the four storey ‘big screen’ that council so kindly permitted to be placed on Crown Land. The officer’s report recommending approval of the permit stated –

The purpose of the proposed screen is to display race-day activities including live video feeds, race replays and sponsor information…..As such it is considered reasonable to have a screen as a component of the horse racing use. (minutes of May 20th 2014).

It now looks as if the definition of ‘race-day activities’ is about to expand and take in the Ashes Cricket and rugby too. More importantly, the MRC intends to have the screen going to 1am this coming Wednesday (ie tomorrow).

Once again we can only lament the arrogance and disregard for the local community by the MRC and we suspect, ably abetted by Council. Below is the advertisement for this event – with no indication of course as to whether this is part of the ‘major event days’ or whether any traffic management plan has been submitted to council and granted approval! 

Source:  http://mrc.racing.com/calendar/2015-07-08/super-sports-night

Game on at Caulfield! Trying to decide what to watch next week, either NRL SOO III or The Ashes? Problem solved, come and watch both at our place.

Come and join us for a Super Sports Night in the Medallion Bar at Caulfield Racecourse. 

As Australia starts their campaign to hold on to the Ashes against fierce rivals England in two weeks’ time, on the same night, Queensland and NSW will take to the field and battle out the State of Origin title. With the series now tied at 1-1, game III “the decider” is sure to be a thriller.

Caulfield’s new 38.4 metre wide Super Screen will provide dual coverage of both the Ashes and the State of Origin with 32 screens from start of play until 1:00am.

Gather your friends, family and colleagues and join us for a night of sporting action in Caulfield’s premium Medallion Bar to share in the excitement and passion as we cheer on our nation.

With free entry and prizes to be won, and great beer on tap, this is the perfect night to watch great sporting action with your mates.

Make sure you arrive by 6:30pm to be eligible for some great prizes.

Date: Wednesday 8th July 2015

Time: 6:00pm till 1:00am.
Patrons can then process to the Caulfield Glasshouse to watch the final innings of the Ashes or the Tour de France. The Caulfield Glasshouse closes at 4:00am.

Where: Medallion Bar, Caulfield Racecourse. Enter via Gate 23, Stations Street, Caulfield East. Limited parking provided Gate 2.

Happy Hour from 6 to 7pm – selected beverages $5.00 during this time. Hot items will be available for purchase from the standard Medallion Café menu, as well as specials for a more substantial meal.

For more info call 1300 GO RACE (46 7223) or Click here to view the menu (PDF)

PS: for all those who haven’t as yet had a read of the Australian Financial Review article on the Melbourne Racing Club, we reproduce it below

Nagging questions about Victorian racing icon 

by Duncan HughesIt’s a 54-hectare site in the prized inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The tenants are offering less than 30¢ a day in rent. And the ensuing dust-up is exposing deep rifts in the city’s tight-ruling elites.

The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was originally intended for use as a racecourse, a park and public recreation area when it was created 155 years ago on the then-outskirts of booming Marvellous Melbourne.

It embraced the ideals of Empire and Britishness in a state named after the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, and a capital named after one of her favourite prime ministers, Viscount Melbourne.

Today it might be less famous than Flemington Racecourse in the city’s inner west. But Caulfield is on the “right side” of town. It’s a dress circle race track amid dress circle properties. And the landlord thinks the rent is far too cheap.

The tenant is Melbourne Racing Club, an establishment powerhouse that packs as much political punch as the Australian Football League.

The landlord is Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust, a governing body that includes a Federal Court judge and is chaired by Greg Sword, former ALP federal president and political powerbroker.

For more than 20 years  MRC has paid an annual rent of $95,000, which is adjusted for inflation.  Since 2012 it’s been squabbling with its landlord about its renewed offer of just $100 rent per annum. That amounts to just 30 cents a day.

MRC says that’s a fair sum, based on an independent valuation that takes into account millions it has spent on maintaining the racecourse plus hundreds of millions of economic activity generated by race meetings.

Local community leaders, whose constituents live in multimillion-dollar Victorian and Edwardian villas along whipper-snipped boulevards, claim they are being bullied.

One of them is Jim Magee, a former racecourse trustee and current mayor of Glen Eira, the local government for the area surrounding Caulfield Race Course.

He says the MRC’s offer is a “joke” and condemns how the MRC has used what is supposed to be public space.

Public campaigners claim race days and use of the track and its surrounds to train hundreds of horses have limited safe public access to a minimum.

Inadequate signage and entrances add to the difficulty of finding a way in.

“To get onto the reserve through the main entrance you have to navigate your way around 150 metres of horse poo and then an obstacle course of fences ostensibly intended to protect the public,” says Magee.

Hundreds of local schoolchildren are being forced to play for neighbouring community sports’ clubs because there are no local fields on which they can kick a ball, he says. The racecourse has monopolised a space equivalent to 15  Melbourne Cricket Ground playing fields.

His complaint is backed up by a report done last year by the Victorian auditor-general, John Doyle, who found that 11 hectares, 20 per cent of the land, is under lease to the MRC; another  37 hectares, 69 per cent, is used by the MRC without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement.

The remaining six hectares is open space for the community from 9.45 am to sunset except during 22 race meetings.

MRC vice-chairman Peter Le Grand is digging in for a fight. He says the annual offer of $100 in rent takes into account maintenance and security spending. The local council has failed to make any contribution to recent renovations and maintenance, he says.

But there’s even more mud being thrown around the turf. The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust has discreetly raised its nagging concerns about senior MRC officials’ financial interest in the racing stables on the course, according to leaked letters to the state minister in charge of the course obtained by AFR Weekend.

The letters raise concerns that  MRC chairman Mike Symons, who is also a trustee, has an ownership interest in Aquanita Racing, a company that leases stables from the MRC under sub-lease from the trustees.

The letter, signed by Greg Sword, chairman of the trust, discloses that annual lease payments for the stable are about $27,000. An independent valuation by Charter Keck Kramer said the rental could be $328,000.

“Any financial negotiations involving the company is done at arm’s length,” says Symons about payments.

MRC vice chairman Le Grand adds: “Mike, or any of the board members, would exclude themselves from any debate, or discussion, that might involve a conflict of interest.” He says that “nothing had come up” about Aquanita Racing at MRC meetings during the past 10 years.

Auditor-general Doyle recommends improved disclosure of the MRC’s benefits from the course, criticised the state government’s oversight, and recommended improved disclosure of finances, performance and management of “perceived conflicts of interest” in the course’s management.

There is now speculation that the trust will be replaced by a management board similar to the statutory bodies that run the  Melbourne Cricket Ground Trust or the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust.

There is also talk about reviewing the way the land is managed.

“That’s news to me,” said mayor Magee. “It’s nice for the government  to tell someone what’s going on. You would have thought they would contact the local council about the most appropriate use for the land. But we have not heard a thing – its silence has been deafening. We only want to share the land.”