New mayor Tony Herbert has revealed the indefinite commercial race horse training ban at Levys Point beach will have to be reviewed, less than a week after Warrnambool City councillors voted it would take no further action.
Cr Herbert said the council would have to re-visit the indefinite ban decision if Warrnambool Racing Club again raised the issue with it.
Late on Thursday Warrnambool Race Club chief executive officer Peter Downs said the race club would make a further submission to the council in the near future about the Belfast Coastal Management Plan.
Cr Herbert, who was elevated to mayor on Monday, said political realities had hamstrung the implementation of the well-supported Belfast plan at Levys, which set aside an area for commercial horse training.
But last Friday the council voted to indefinitely ban commercial training at Levys after legal advice found that the plan did not override the local planning zone, which prohibits commercial horse training.
That motion included the council would not instigate any further action on the issue.
Cr Herbert on Thursday said the November 24 state election had complicated the implementation of the Belfast plan.
"I'm really hopeful that after the election we will have clearer air," he said.
State Planning Minister Richard Wynne has the power to make a directive to change the city’s planning scheme and allow the Belfast coastal plan recommendations to be introudced.
But Mr Wynne sits in the knife-edge seat of Richmond and the government is now in caretaker mode until the election.
Cr Herbert said he understood the situation and that Mr Wynne was in a "precarious political position" with The Greens likely to have a significant impact in his seat.
He said city councillors had not been across all the planning issues and even the council’s planning team and legal advisors had to work through processes.
Cr Herbert said that as of last Friday, the commercial training of horses at Levys was a prohibited activity and the council would not instigate further action.
"It's a chance for us to take stock and look at the options. We are supportive of the racing industry and jobs it involves," he said.
He said the council changing the planning scheme - a seven step process that could take 18 months - was a worse-case scenario.
He said if the racing approached the council, it would be duty-bound to look at any submissions.
"There could be complexities but there have been horses trained on the beaches since 1911," Cr Herbert said.
"It's a huge industry, there's a lot of people involved in the industry although I understand some people don't like the gambling aspect.
"It's an industry that could grow and employ more people and we would be absolutely negligent in our role not to support them."
Cr Herbert said the Belfast plan ticked a lot of boxes, had been devised under a Labor Government and was ready to be implemented.
"Before the management plan there were no rules and guidelines. DELWP is going to employ two officers, that's a considerable level of control and compliance," he said.
"Both sides of government support jobs and the racing industry is a significant employer in this region.
"The Belfast plan appears to cater for almost all needs of shareholders.”
Training on Warrnambool and district beaches became a hot topic after the Darren Weir-trained Prince of Penzance won the 2015 Melbourne Cup, which led to a complete review of the commercial training of gallopers on beaches.
On Tuesday Racing Minister Martin Pakula said the future of Warrnambool’s multi-million-dollar racing industry was in the hands of the city council.
The council came under fire from both sides of politics with South West Coast Liberal MP Roma Britnell labelling the current racehorses-on-beaches indefinite ban a “debacle”.
Warrnambool Racing Club chief executive officer Peter Downs said the Belfast Coastal Management plan had support from both sides of politics and whatever the state election result, it was hoped there would be a quick resolution to the current situation.
"The consultation has been exhaustive," he said.
"We feel trainers and the racing industry have done the right thing, engaged with all stakeholders and complied throughout the process. The Belfast management plan is the right outcome. To suggest the environment has not been considered is quite ridiculous."