Byron miffed over Beats fest

Byron mayor Jan Barham has criticised Ballina Shire Council for not consulting them when approving the New Years Day festival Beats on the Beach.

The one-day event is being held at Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina on New Years Day with a maximum capacity of 9000. Beats on the Beach is targeting the 15-35 demographic and 2000 camping passes are being sold, with campers able to arrive on New Years Eve.

The festival is being promoted as just 15 minutes from Byron.

The Byron Shire Echo yesterday reported Cr Barham was worried that campers arriving in Ballina on New Years Eve and finding nothing to do would inevitably head to Byron Bay.

She said the event was spring-boarding off Byrons reputation as an iconic destination and yet she had not even been told it was taking place.

However, Ballina mayor Phillip Silver said while he respected Cr Barhams opinions, the event had been approved by Council staff after police gave the go ahead. He said councillors were under the impression it would take pressure off New Years Eve as people who had payed a lot of money to attend the New Years Day event would be less inclined to party the night before.

Meanwhile, Ballina Shire Council general manager John Christopherson said there had been concerns from nearby Ballina residents about noise, traffic and controls around alcohol consumption.

These guys are fully aware if there are difficulties with this event in the first year there will not be a second year, he said.

He said the organisers had already wound the closing time back from midnight to 9pm and were genuinely trying to address communitys concerns.

Mr Christopherson said he could understand people being wary, and he himself had been in two minds when he first heard the proposal.

They want to do something and it involves noise and alcohol even though its controlled, he said. In my mind instantly theres danger, danger, danger. Then the other side of me says Dont be such a fuddy-duddy. They want to do something on New Years Day, give them a chance.

Sydney-based promoter Sam Speaight said they had a stringent noise policy and were planning a letterbox drop of several hundred residents to inform them about the event and measures being taken to mitigate the impact on local residents. They were also planning to door-knock as many as possible.

He said they wanted Beats on the Beach to be an ongoing event, not a one-off, and they realised that required harmonious co-existence.

It requires a street-level approach, he said. Its shaking peoples hands and showing them were not big, bad city-slickers. Obviously its not going to please everyone, but we want to get as many people on board as possible.

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