Air show turbulence

A SHELLHARBOUR councillor's concerns about the organisation of Wings Over Illawarra has attracted criticism from the council and the event's current and former organisers.

Bright Events took on the planning role in January after the Aviator Lounge fire left Mark and Kerry Bright without a business.

But councillor Kellie Marsh criticised the move because there was no competitive tender process.

"I wish Bright Events the best of luck, but we need to make sure we're getting the best bang for the ratepayers' buck - we just don't know."

Cr Marsh said approaches had been made to Mayor Marianne Saliba and general manager Michael Willis, but councillors were not informed early enough or given the opportunity to endorse or reject the venture.

However, a council spokeswoman said the event was run by a committee of stakeholders and the decision was not the council's to make.

"The council is not paying Bright Events to run the event and any works taken on by the council will be billed by the council to Bright Events," she said.

Former event co-ordinator and current advisor to Bright Events Michael Hough ran the event for the past seven years and said it could not have continued using a committee.

"It was not able and not willing to put in the thousands of hours and we needed a more professional structure," he said.

"Kellie Marsh is trying to get political mileage out of it [and is] point-scoring rather than reaching a useful decision."

Mr Hough said he scoured the community for other interested parties, but none existed.

"No-one was interested, with the exception of Bright," he said.

A Bright Events spokesman rejected Cr Marsh's comments because Wings Over Illawarra was not a council asset and the council's withdrawal had left insufficient volunteer resources to run the event.

"Bright Events Pty Ltd put its proposal first to Shellharbour City Council in its capacity as committee chair before this proposal was put to the Wings Over Illawarra Organising Committee for a decision," he said.

"The committee unanimously decided to accept the Bright Events Pty Ltd proposal and Shellharbour City Council facilitated the transfer of the event and the dissolution of the Wings Over Organising Committee."

He said the decision freed council staff to focus on the council's core work, allowed more work for businesses in the area and would increase tourism.

"Now that Wings Over Illawarra has commercial investment and management behind it, it is no longer constrained by the available time or resources of volunteers".

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