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March 3, 2021

Bluesfest backs down on parking fees plan

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Bluesfest has backed down on its controversial decision to charge for parking at this year’s festival and will issue refunds to thousands of ticket holders who had already paid to park there.

Just two weeks after a tribunal found that the festival had engaged in ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ over the parking plan, organisers issued a statement today saying they would postpone charging patrons to park until next year’s event.

‘All 2019 ticketholders [who have already paid for parking] will be refunded [those fees] by 12 April 2019,’ a festival spokesperson said.

‘Bluesfest apologises for any confusion caused and inconvenience it may have caused ticket purchasers.’

The festival incurred the wrath of thousands of ticket holders when it announced last December that it would be charging separate parking fees for the first time.

Coming more than seven months after tickets for this year’s event had gone on sale, the measure would have forced patrons to pay up to $250 more to attend the festival.

One ticket holder, Anthony Donnellan, took the festival to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with the court ordering Bluesfest to refund his ticket, thus potentially setting a precedent for other ticket holders.

Echonetdaily understands that Bluesfest has now lodged an appeal against that decision.

Mr Donnellan said today’s announcement was the outcome he was hoping for.

‘I always said that everybody should have had the opportunity to get a refund and the NCAT was the only way I could see that we could achieve that,’ he said.

‘People can now decide whether they want to go to next year’s festival knowing that they will have to pay for parking.’

The Bluesfest spokesperson defended the festival’s decision to introduce paid parking next year, saying organisers had been given ‘full approval from Byron Shire Council, the NSW Police and the Roads & Maritime Services to include paid parking’.

‘Paid parking is being introduced due to increased costs in multiple areas of the live music business including artist fees, production, logistics, grounds maintenance and security,’ the spokesperson said.

‘As the last major live music event within the region to introduce a parking fee, Bluesfest understands that it imposes a further cost for patrons, however as a business, the company needs to ensure the future of the festival.

‘Bluesfest encourages patrons travelling to the festival to consider the environment when making the trip to Byron Bay, and to car pool or use public transport where possible. Bluesfest is also asking patrons to bring re-usable water bottles to the site to eliminate plastic usage at the festival.’

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  1. This is good news for the patrons. It does not, in any way, absolve Bluesfest. They are only backing down at the 11th hour after the public outcry. Not because they care about the community, or care about you having a refund. You can bet they are currently spitting and fuming as they sit in front of a spreadsheet with all the lost revenue.
    Face saving at its most cringe inducing. Too late, Bluesfest – I’m never going back!

  2. Bluesfest say “they have listened”. No they have not. They shut down every means of discussion, blocked people from their social media and it was only when Anthony Donnellan took action backed by others approaching various news outlets and byron shire council that they backed down knowing that legally they had lost.

    Yes other festivals charge for parking. Woodford charges $20 for the duration of the festival. Bluesfest wanted between $125-250 for the duration of the festival.
    Other festivals announce the charges before selling you the tickets.
    Bluesfest have had a PR disaster with this and like others I won’t be back.

  3. “We’ve listened to your concerns and we’ve heard you”. … The public is not stupid and they have long memories when being got at.

    If BluesFest had the guts, they’d admit to themselves that they stuffed up. … And if it wasn’t for the public outcry, written objections and the court case which found against them, do you think they’d be doing a U-turn? No bloody way, José.

    This will be my 17th and final BluesFest. Therefore, the financial losers will be BluesFest.

  4. “Paid parking is being introduced due to increased costs in multiple areas of the live music business including artist fees, production, logistics, grounds maintenance and security” is what Blues Fest is now saying. Of course it wasn’t a green initiative as Blues Fest initially stated! Totally contradiction on their spin from recently and the festival has been caught out … we still need an apology. Whoever decided to say it was a green initiative should be fired and has damaged the festival’s reputation. The least they can do is refund whoever has already paid.

  5. Bluesfest have really upset a lot of festival goers with this situation.Shutting down their forum is both childish and arrogant,this is just another situation(the Neil Young debarcle comes to mind) where Bluesfest has treated the “punters”with no respect whatsoever,i,like many others,I will vote with my feet,i will not attend another Bluesfest.

  6. Our 7th and last Bluesfest. Celebrating 30 years this year by fleecing patrons, recycling lineups and letting an unhinged few in management lose sight of the things that made the festival great.

  7. So according to the anonymous Bluesfest spokesperson, the real reason for the introduction of the paid parking charge was due to increased costs in multiple areas of the live music business. And they need to do this to ensure the future of the festival.

    Well Bluesfest’s finances must be in parlous state if they need the money from paid parking so badly. And rather than ensuring the future of the festival, Bluesfest’s actions will contribute to it’s demise. They have alienated so many of their previously loyal long term ticket purchasers that next year we’ll vote with our feet and not attend Bluesfest. I’ve already put my money where my mouth is and bought tickets for this year’s Mullum Music Festival (to be held in November). So for the first time in many years I won’t be buying a 5 day Early Bird ticket for Bluesfest 2020 at this year’s festival and instead I’ll spend that money at the Mullum Music Festival. And I’m sure plenty of other people are going to do exactly the same as me.

    So Bluesfest have ended up in a classic lose/lose situation. They’ll get no money from paid parking this year and they’ll get less money from Early Bird ticket sales at this year’s festival than they have in previous years. And in the process they’ve trashed their reputation. After all it’s now on the public record from no less an authority than the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal that Bluesfest had engaged in ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ in relation to the paid parking charge for the 2019 festival. No amount of weasel words from Bluesfest will ever remove that stain from their reputation.


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