The Macarthur Chronicle referred to Liz Vincent, the founder of Liz Vincent History and Ghost Tours of Picton, on her passing in Late May May 2009 as a "Living Treasure", and as a local icon who put Picton on the map. Over 13 years she wrote historic articles for newspapers, conducted history and ghost turs, and made the heritage of the district she was so fond of into an enduring legacy.
Like most businesses, they are not created in a vaccum, or overnight, and even when there is someone seemingly out front - they are almost always a team effort
Any way you cut it, though, Liz still left big shoes behind to fill. Frankly she was only the kind of person you could succeed - you could never actually replace them! Knowing this better than anyone, John Vincent, and their daughter Jennie Davies have been carrying the torch since Liz's passing, running the ghost and history tours .For many years they have co-operatively run their business, with a licencing arrangement with Wollondilly council. This allowed their business to grow responsibly in a council approved way, and brought an enormous benefit to the wider community for over a decade, with open communication and common sense team work with local government.
Up until now, that is...
Let me explain. Over the last few years there have been youths that are not NOT part of of the history tours or Ghost tours hanging around near the Redbank Range Tunnel at night acting like hooligans and annoying the local residents. These tunnels are one of the features of the lower picton ghost tour. This tunnel has been featured on national and international television now on numerous occasions for years. A few of the local residents who are uncomfortable with this national and international profile, and the behavior of a few unrelated nitwits not on the tour itself, have been campaigning for the tour to be stopped or sent elsewhere on those grounds .
One of these whingers made the complaint to council as to why the Ghost tours not have to make a Development Application ( D/A), not knowing about the existing licencing arrangement. Council, trying to cover it's own tail, then commissions two legal opinions. One more or less confirms the opinion that the existing situation is a reasonable position. The second basically advocates council using the D/A process to cover their own tail.
Council, in it's infinite wisdom, then ignores 13 years of co-operation, plus the first legal opinion, and then decides the second legal opinion as the one it is going to follow. They then inform John Vincent that they are going to cancel the licencing arrangement that has been in place for over a decade on the 4th of February 2011, unless he submits a Development Application. A process he has been advised is going to cost him him excess of $4000.00, to have to go cap in hand humbly to council to do what the business has been doing successfully for over a decade, i.e. conduct it's only internationally recognised tourism attraction, that also props up half the service & hospitality businesses in the town.
This Development Application has proposed restrictions from council that reduce the number of people who can come on the tour, reducing revenue, and reducing the number of tours to once a month. Unless you are selling QE2 tickets ( tens of thousands of dollars per ticket), no tour company can survive that drop in turnover. But to team this with a dramatic increase in council fees and charges on top of the drop in revenue makes a viable business into a non-viable one.
SydneyGhostTour.Com sees this kind of behaviour as a threat to all small business owners who build businesses up from scratch. Instead of addressing the real problem by seeking the appropriate application of Police presence to prevent anti-social behavior, Wollondilly Council appears to be trying to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. All to please a handful of whingers, and hurting the entire community in the process.
We stand with John & Jennie in their fight against what is clearly a case of bureacracy gone mad