Byron hits a snag on booze-free New Year

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

REVELLERS may be able to uncork the champagne bottles again in preparation for New Year's Eve in Byron Bay.

Plans announced last month to scrap the Byron Bay New Year's Eve dance party and make the CBD an alcohol-prohibited zone have hit a snag.

Last month, Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham declared an end to the town's party image with plans to tone down NYE festivities; while Byron Bay police wrote to the council for permission to transform the town's streets into a huge alcohol-prohibited zone for NYE.

However, both requests have been rejected by Byron Shire Council's director of community and corporate services, Elisabeth Brown.

Ms Brown has tabled a report to the council saying alcohol cannot be banned from public roads and car parks under Section 632 of the Local Government Act.

"We encouraged the police to put in their application (for prohibition)," Ms Brown said.

"We all thought it was doable, but our compliance team found out you cannot prohibit alcohol on public roads or car parks."

Ms Brown has also recommended the council advertise for expressions of interest for the management of the dance party, saying it is needed for managing crowds and providing revenue to pay for NYE, estimated by staff to cost $118,000 each year.

The move has angered Cr Barham, who said she would oppose the recommendations at today's ordinary council meeting.

"I can't believe this is in the report," Cr Barham said.

"We do not want to be sending out the message that Byron Bay is having a big party."

Cr Barham said there was a way for the council to give permission for alcohol prohibition.

"It is my belief that, on the request of the police, we have the right to do the prohibition," Cr Barham said.

"There is a special circumstances provision, and I think the request from police is a special circumstance."

Cr Barham said she would also move to oppose the dance party recommendation and continue to push for more family-oriented entertainment.

"I'm still into the school choirs," she said.

"Maybe we could also have a lantern parade like Lismore does, or have salsa dancing on the streets, something that young and old can join in."

Cr Barham said the $118,000 cost estimate was based on a bigger party event, adding she believed the council could run the event for half that amount.



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