17 September, 2022
Chamber defends music in the street
MALANDA’s Chamber of Commerce has admitted they could have consulted the community better introducing the “Music in the Street” program which has drawn some criticism from locals.
The program kicked off late last year and involves the placement of speakers under the verandah of the Malanda Hotel and at the Spar Supermarket which play music and feature messages from kids at the local school as well as some advertising content from local businesses.
But while some like the new vibe, others are angry that the chamber of commerce did not consult the wider community before going ahead with the project and say the music has ruined the ambiance of the street and interferes with people using the public space.
Glen Allyn resident Matt Lachlan is leading the charge for those who oppose the program, putting out a public statement last week to detail concerns.
“Principally, the issue is one of lack of consultation, the complete and utter disregard of the community’s right to have their say on a scheme that directly affects them,” he wrote.
“The Malanda Chamber of Commerce has the right to advocate for their member businesses. They do not have the right to negatively impact the community by effectively dictating what takes place in public areas – all for their own financial benefit.
“Secondly, is it in the public interest for businesses to pay money to the chamber to enable them to broadcast advertising in public places? In public areas highly regarded by locals and tourists alike for outdoor dining no less.
“A place where locals of all ages can gather for a meal and to catch up with friends. One of the few places where residents with limited mobility, (often with mobility aids), are able have their outing with friends.
“Is it proper for the chamber to effectively take over the main street in town and dictate to the community what they listen to and when? To force people to listen to chamber advertising? My view is no – it is not proper; it is not in the public interest, and it is not acceptable!”
Chamber president Jeanette Suffield has defended the program, saying it came out of a need for an effective sound system during community events.
“When we started our Christmas festival a couple of years ago, we realised people couldn’t hear what was happening – we had a PA system but the sound was an issue,” she said.
“We came up with the idea of ‘music in the streets’ and went to the businesses to see if they would sponsor a speaker so we could have a system that could be used for future events like Anzac Day, Queensland Day and so on.”
Ms Suffield said the children from the primary school were also using the medium as part of their “Moo-landa News” program which is aimed at connecting the school to the community.
While she acknowledged the chamber had not asked the broader community before going ahead with the project, she believed the majority of residents had embraced the vibe.
“We’re a proactive chamber – we made free wifi available first and this was another project we thought would create a good vibe in the street.”
The chamber secured grants as well as sponsorships from19 businesses to fund the installation of the sound system.
“We have had a few people complain but mostly we get good feedback, with people wanting more country music and more from the 80s.”
Ms Suffield said the chamber would be placing feedback boxes in local businesses for anyone who wished to give their opinion.
The chamber had also extended Mr Lachlan multiple invitations to meet and discuss the issue, but he had declined to meet with the group.