Circus blows top over fees

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A circus has juggled dates after threatening not to come to town over a rental dispute with Queenstown Primary School.

Weber Brothers blew their top after Queenstown Primary board chairman Chris Duffy told them they’d be charged $5000 to use the school grounds over five days during school term next February.

After paying $1200 last summer, which was “absolutely tops”, $5000 was “out of our league totally” and they wouldn’t come, circus sales boss Paul Johnson said early this week.

“I have never in our time in New Zealand come across such a cold response to us bringing our event to the community, especially when the board represents the kids and families who have always enjoyed our shows.”

Johnson told Mountain Scene yesterday he’d agreed with principal John Western to come the week before school starts for a renegotiated $2000.

Duffy defends the original asking price: “It was [going to be] outside the school holidays so were going to lose quite a bit of field.

“And we’re not in the business of running circuses or having everyone use our school facilities. You can’t come out aggressively abusing the school – we’re not the only field in the Wakatipu Basin.”

Duffy suggests Weber used to be “on a sweetheart deal” at the primary school.

“We used to get our lawns mown for free, now it costs us $3000 or $4000, so we’re getting tugged every way as well.”