Circus Phoenix Extreme Forster

Phoenix Harrison and Cassandra Gasser.
Phoenix Harrison and Cassandra Gasser.

It was a show like no other – a non event after Circus Phoenix Extreme was asked to roll up its tent and move on.

The circus, which promised to put on a thrilling and spellbinding show with all the elements of a new generation circus where performance and extreme sports collide in a two hour high energy performance, rolled into Forster on Tuesday, July 10 for a planned two week stay.

However, the following day MidCoast Council issued Circus Phoenix with a Notice of Intent asking it to pack up and leave.

Council later slapped it with a $6000 fine.

The circus set up and started to operate without having any appropriate approvals to do so, MidCoast Council acting planning and natural systems director, Paul De Szell said.

“While a development application (DA) to operate on a vacant parcel of land was lodged with council, it was only done so in the week before the circus intended on operating,” Mr De Szell said.

“This did not allow council time to assess the application in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

“These types of applications take at least 6-8 weeks to assess, and require public notification as well as a range of supporting material including a traffic management plan, which had not been submitted in this instance.”

Mr De Szell said the applicant was aware before it arrived in town that the application would not be approved in time for them to operate.

Three council officers met circus representatives on site on Tuesday, before it began operating to indicate they needed to leave the site, he said.

However, the circus ignored council’s request and continued to operate, forcing council on Wednesday to issue a notice of intent to vacate the premises.

“We have a number of circuses that come into town during the year and they all successfully navigate the planning system and gain approvals before they start operating,” Mr De Szell said.

Circus Phoenix co-owner and performer Casandra Gasser explained the circus originally had secured an event licence for John Wright Park, Tuncurry.

However, the massive marquee would not fit on the site, leaving the circus no other option but to pursue an alternate venue.

The troupe was offered a site on privately owned land on MacIntosh Street, next to Smuggler’s Cove and KFC, which also had accommodated a circus in the past.

With a traffic management plan already in place, Cassandra   believed they were okay to set up.

At the same time, a nearby hotel offered to provide the circus with additional parking if needed.

Cassandra, and her partner Phoenix Harrison believed council was bullying and intimidating the company, which – at the time – did not have an alternate venue to relocate to.

One of the 20 performers was issued with a fine for not having a puppy on a lead on the private land, while advertising posters have been removed.

They also were issued with a fine for parking their truck on a grass verge.

Cassandra said the circus would pack-up and leave for Port Macquarie on Sunday after performances on Friday and Saturday.

She acknowledged the Hasting Council for accommodating the circus at short notice.

A small group of fans, who gathered to show their support for the circus,  unanimously described the performance under the big top as awesome.

“We loved it, it was a fabulous show,” Raelene Ashton said.

“It was completely out of the norm for a circus and the kids were in awe.

“But I think the council is bullying them when they should be working with them. There are ways to work things out.

“There isn’t much that comes to town for family and kids and this is good.”

Carol Batty said the clown was one of the funniest she had ever seen and described the motor bike show as awesome.

“I think it is wrong council wants to shut them down.

“They are not hurting anyone.”