Barham cans NYE party

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

IN AN extraordinary outburst yesterday, Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham offered to personally book portaloos for 20,000 people expected in Byron Bay on New Year's Eve.

"I'll make the phone call if necessary. It's not that hard to pick up a phone and book something," Cr Barham said to council staff who had wanted a NYE co-ordinator to be employed instead.

The outburst followed a heated meeting in which the mayor won her fight to cancel the BayFM dance party, tonedown NYE entertainment, and squash the town's growing party reputation.

However, the mayor failed with a bid, backed by police, to have the town's CBD declared an alcohol-prohibited zone on New Year's Eve.

The council will now write to the NSW Premier's Department to approve the alcohol ban after council staff advised councillors it was not possible under the Local Government Act to prohibit alcohol on public roads or car parks.

Yesterday's meeting follows months of hand-wringing by residents, councillors and police over how to handle the event amid escalating alcohol problems and a growing party-town reputation.

The situation came to a head after a fracas at last year's BayFM dance party, when security staff were ordered off the job by police, who found many were not registered to work in NSW.

Yesterday, John Brophy, from the Byron Bay Lions Club, urged the council not to cancel the party, saying the security issue could be fixed.

"We must provide some entertainment on the night for the numbers of people that come," Mr Brophy said.

After the meeting, Mr Brophy said he was disappointed the council had voted to cancel the party, which provides a large amount of revenue to cover the cost of the event.

However, Cr Jan Barham was unrepentant.

"This is our last chance to change the flavour of our town," she said.

"We can send out a strong message.

"Forget an advertising campaign. New Year's Eve becomes the vehicle, the means to say we've gone off on the wrong tangent and we want to get back on track."



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