Newcastle City Council has voted to “permanently kill off” the Newcastle 500 by destroying the street circuit.
All but one councillor voted in favour of a motion at tonight's (Tuesday night) council meeting to restore permanent raised pedestrian crossings on the streets which made up the Supercars circuit as a “priority”, as well as future removal of the short permanent section which links Turns 10 and 11.
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All up, a total of 11 councillors – including both Greens, the sole Independent, and one of the Liberals – voted in favour, with another Liberal councillor absent from the meeting due to illness.
Just Liberal Cr Callum Pull, who represents Ward 4 and hence the westernmost suburbs under Newcastle's four-ward system, voted against the motion.
Cr Pull argued that a majority of incumbent councillors went to the most recent election, in 2021, supporting the Newcastle 500 and hence should have honoured that commitment.
“The last time that the entire LGA had an opportunity to vote on Supercars, they delivered an overwhelming majority of councillors who expressly supported the race, and that's why those residents will rightly feel let down should this motion be carried tonight,” he told the chamber.
Cr Pull also argued that the decision to destroy the street circuit was premature given talks between the New South Wales state government and Supercars on a future, multi-year contract.
Ironically, council's original stated reason for refusing to accept the state government's interim, one-year funding offer for the 2024 Newcastle 500 was that it was not consistent with the community consultation which was predicated on the potential renewal of the five-year option.
“In September … we were told that the major issue was the lack of a long-term contract,” noted Cr Pull.
“So, I don't see the need to permanently kill off an event in Newcastle when both the state government and Supercars have left the door open and have offered what council said it wanted, being negotiations on a long-term deal.”
He also asserted that, “The Newcastle 500 was, without a doubt, the biggest event we've ever had and, in my view, is something that we should be working very hard to see return as soon as possible.”
However, his position was a lone one.
Fellow Liberal Cr Jenny Barrie said that businesses in and around the circuit “will be cheering in the streets,” and residents who “suffer[ed]” due to road closures and obstructions created by barriers will also be strongly in favour of the event's axing.
Notwithstanding that there appears to have been little to no planning for such an idea, Newcastle City Council has reiterated its position encouraging Cessnock and the state government to work on such an event.
Labor's Elizabeth Adamczyk, one of Pull's fellow Ward 4 councillors, reasoned that a Cessnock event would be more accessible to Supercars fans in the western suburbs which she represents than the Newcastle East Street Circuit was.
“The Wine Country 500, which is a fantastic proposal, would be very accessible,” she declared.
“From where I live, it would be about 15 or 20 minutes; that is actually less time than it takes to get into the city.
“I know that the members of my community that have spoken to me about their support for the race … are ambivalent to the location.”
The 2024 Supercars season will start with the Thrifty Bathurst 500 at Mount Panorama on February 23-25 as part of the conclusion of the ‘Bathurst SuperFest' which will kick off on the weekend prior with the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour.