Use of Warrnambool City Council logo ‘not sinister’ in river row's latest twist

Warrnambool City Council has played down a potential storm over unauthorised use of its logo by a Hopkins River user group in the long-running water rules controversy.

The Standard has confirmed that a senior council officer spoke with a group representative this week after a notice containing information taken from the council’s website and bearing the city logo was distributed in letterboxes.

Concern was expressed on Monday night by Cr Rob Askew, who said the leaflet could have influenced people who signed petitions protesting against the council’s decision last year to seek state approval to change the official starting time for power boats, allowing water skiers to start up to  90 minutes earlier.

However, the person who distributed the leaflets told The Standard yesterday it was a straight lift of information freely available from the council’s public website. 

“All I did was download the information page calling for submissions — there was no opinion attached,”  he said.

City council communications manager Nick Higgins told The Standard yesterday unauthorised use of an official logo was “inappropriate, but not sinister in this case”.

“The matter has been taken seriously and one of our officers has spoken with the club,” he said.

“Basically a user group has distributed council information with our logo on it.

“The way it was presented could have given people the impression it was authorised by council.

“We often get requests from organisations to use our logo and we support it where council might be a supporter or stakeholder in an event.”

Four petitions with 120 signatures and 31 submissions opposed any change to  Transport Safety Victoria’s ruling of a 9.30am start. The eight submissions favouring an earlier start came mainly from ski club members and enthusiasts.

The council’s unanimous vote this week for a compromise to allow a single powerboat to start an hour before 9.30am drew more protest from non-skiers, including a call for the decision-making process to be taken away from the council. 

Protesters claimed the council had favoured a minority and ignored the majority.

Councillors argued on Monday night the Hopkins was the region’s best venue for ski competition and enthusiasts needed access to still early-morning waters. However, anglers, rowers and dragon boat racing enthusiasts claim the wake from powerboats and skiers put their safety at risk and hindered their freedom to use the river. 

Petitioners called for a rotational odds-and-even system of starting times while residents in the area complained of noise and boundary breaches by some powerboat users.

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