Police, bikies still at odds over charity

BENDIGO police will not stop a Christmas toy ride event from going ahead this year.

But officers want the fundraiser to be held without police assistance.

Organiser Tony Warhurst said police had traditionally blocked off roads to allow riders to travel through town and collect donations for needy people.

He said road closures were needed for participants to travel in a group without getting lost.

But Acting Inspector Paul Gardiner said the riders had been asked to come up with an alternative plan.

“They were advised to come back with a plan that did not involve police,” he said.

“If that can’t be facilitated, that’s when the negotiations happen.

“There are a significant number of events that occur every weekend that go ahead on our roads without direct police involvement.

“And those events occur safely.”

Acting Inspector Gardiner said there was nothing to stop the ride occurring without police involvement with all road rules followed.

“I’m happy to still discuss the event with them,” he said.

“To do an event of this nature in the most appropriate manner could take up six to eight police vehicles.

“That is a significant number of resources, which is why we need to assess events in this nature.

“We aim to facilitate as many events as we can without police involvement because of the number of resources it takes for the event to occur.”

The event raises up to $30,000 in toys and food vouchers for St Vincent de Paul each year.

Mr Warhurst expects to find out in coming months if the event can still be held, but said it was a “major risk” for him to hold the ride without road blocks.

“We try to do so much good for various charities, not just the toy run,” he said.

“I’d prefer to see it done the way it’s always be done.”

Mr Warhurst said the event only lasted once a year for one hour with major benefits for the toy and food voucher recipients. 

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