The Byron Bay Liquor Accord and chamber of commerce (Byron United) have come out in tentative support of the shire council’s decision to close the town to traffic on New Years Eve, despite not attending last week’s committee meeting where the plan was hatched.
But an Ocean Shores residents’ group is critical of the simultaneous announcement of a new festival for the North Byron Parklands site over the New Year period.
Hannah Spalding from the Byron Bay Liquor Accord says her organisation is behind the mayor’s suggestion to close the streets on NYE.
‘It’s a great way to encourage coming here for the right reasons,’ she told Echonetdaily.
Byron United president Paul Waters says that though he’s not a ‘big fan of this sort of action’, he says he can ‘see the merits and if it’s done well and only for one night I can’t see a problem’.
‘I think we all understand that after last year’s problems we need to do something to stop the gatecrashers and if a lockdown is the answer then that’s what has to be done.
‘There are also other initiatives that I have put forward at the summer safety committee meetings that I have attended so far this year that should be considered… one important one is to enforce capacity limits at camping areas like Red Devil and Belongil Fields etc, as we know they were overrun last year, causing great concern to police and operators.’
And to help pay for it all, director of Falls Festival Byron Bay, Brandon Saul, says his festival will contribute cash to Byron’s NYE event to the tune of around $25,000.
‘Apart from locals’ involvement in the festival itself through programming local acts, arts activities, staffing and locals’ tickets, Falls Festival Byron Bay will contribute funds and expertise to assist with the running of Council events and activities planned for Byron Bay township over the New Year period.
‘We’ll also be running a youth skills program that will give local youth hands-on experience and mentoring in carpentry, construction, bush regeneration and event management,’ Mr Saul said.
But some residents that neighbour the North Byron Parklands site are less than impressed. Conservation of North Ocean Shores (CONOS) president Bob Oehlman told Echonetdaily, ‘You would have to be a fool to think that by bringing the Falls Festival to Yelgun this would make a difference to NYE in Byron Bay’.
‘Byron Bay is the destination that people want to come to. Contrary to what the Green (?) mayor says, the NSW planning department and the RMS will have the final say. To bring in an extra 20,000 people into Byron Shire in peak holiday time is a joke. Like what happened in Lorne, you would be simply transferring the problem from Byron Bay to the north. It is obvious that the promoters have no consideration for the local community and no consideration for the wildlife. The residents of Lorne didn’t want it and neither do we.’
When North Byron Parklands received planning approval for test events by the Planning Assessment Commission last year, it included permission for three events per year. As far as Echonetdaily is aware, additional permission is not required to hold the Falls Festival.