Wedding celebrants outraged at ‘unjust’ council permits
It seems Noosa Council have said "I do" to raising the price of wedding permits one too many times, and the local industry isn't impressed.
Noosa Council have raised the price of wedding permits from $510 in the last financial year to $567 in specific areas of Noosa, making one of the state's most expensive places to get married even more expensive.
The price increase relates to the four picturesque groves along the Noosa Boardwalk, Maison La Plage Grove, Casuarina Gardens, Hidden Grove and Laguna Grove.
With a lack of maintenance, and a no-refund policy for inclement weather, Coast wedding celebrants claim the price hike is not justifiable.
Francesca Ellul from Heart 2 Soul Ceremonies said it felt like Noosa Council was doing all it could to prevent weddings in Noosa.
She pointed out the "mammoth difference" in Noosa Council's wedding permit fees compared to that of Sunshine Coast Council's $86.
"It is quite a disaster actually," she said.
"Weddings bring in a lot of money to that area, I just don't understand their reasoning.
"I cringed when someone says they want to get married in Noosa."
According to Noosa Council, the increased cost of wedding permits was an attempt to phase in a full cost recovery process for the hiring of public land for weddings.
Property manager Clint Irwin said this would ensure that ratepayers no longer subsidised the service.
"If we don't move to recover the full cost of providing the service from wedding parties, then the shortfall will continue to be covered by ratepayers," he said.
"The fee gives the bride and groom a three-hour wedding timeslot in a picturesque environment, regarded as the premier north facing location in Australia."
Mr Irwin said the hiring fee was reasonable when considering other costs associated with a wedding.
"The funds cover administration costs, management of bookings and maintaining the wedding areas to the high standard expected for such an important occasion," he said.
However, according to Noosa Council's terms and conditions for holding a formal ceremony, maintaining wedding areas is not part of the deal.
"Council controlled land is on a routine maintenance program and will not be specifically groomed prior to the ceremony," the terms and conditions state.
"Council does not accept any responsibility for the condition of the area including mowing, maintenance or inclement weather conditions resulting in leaf/branch debris."
Coast wedding celebrant and spokeswoman for Noosa Wedding Organisation Jacqueline Gray said she had been forced to apologise to couples in the past for the poor state of wedding areas in Noosa.
"We are apologising to couples all the time," she said.
"I've been to one site and there were dirty nappies left behind."
In a recent proposal to council, Noosa Weddings lobbied on behalf of Noosa wedding businesses for support from council and Tourism Noosa.
Ms Gray said their "most pressing goal was to have fees reduced for the four groves and ensure the maintenance is up to scratch".
Other requests included to offer refunds of permit fees for unforeseen circumstances.
As well as a percentage of Tourism Noosa's marketing budget to promote weddings and honeymoons in Noosa - the funding was withdrawn several years ago and redirected to other portfolios.
Within the proposal, Noosa Weddings outlined the drop in wedding bookings at Noosa, claiming permits issued overall have reduced from 436 per year, to 353 per year.
According to Noosa weddings, the drop translated to a reduced income to council between $39,000 and $56,000 since the increase in fees, and reduced income to tourism and wedding industry businesses in the region by about $12 million.
According to the Noosa Wedding spokeswoman, "councillors are listening to our business submissions and are understanding of our concerns - and we thank them for meeting with us recently".