EXTRA 10,000 BLUES FEST TICKETS
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
TWO THOUSAND extra music lovers daily will flood through the gates of next year's East Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay.
The Byron Shire Council has approved a development application for the four-and-half-day event from April 13-17, which includes a request for a jump from 14,000 to 16,000 adult patrons daily.
Festival producer Peter Noble was unavailable for comment yesterday, but told councillors at a meeting on Tuesday that the area of the event at Red Devil Park would be expanded by 1500 square metres to cater for more music lovers.
He said that area would be used as 'open space' throughout the site for festival-goers to move more freely.
Mr Noble said it was the same principle as Splendour in the Grass festival producer Jessica Decrou used to gain approval for an extra 3500 patrons at next year's event, in July or August, at Belongil.
The motion to approve the DA came from mayor Jan Barham, who said she trusted the new plans would result in next year's event being even better than the last.
"We've heard there's additional space... each year the festival improves and (council) staff have noted the improvement of the festival's organisation," she said.
"Last year one-quarter of the attendees were from this shire and surrounding shires. It's something local people are very proud of."
Cr Barham's motion was supported by all councillors except John Lazarus and Tom Tabart.
The DA includes new parking and traffic strategies, such as 'locals only' parking areas, but Cr Lazarus said trying to implement those plans made no sense if ticket sales were increased.
"It's great to trial new ideas on how to address traffic and noise, but you don't do it by increasing the number of patrons," he said.
"This has major impacts on residents ? everyone wants to move the site."
Cr Lazarus expressed concern at music continuing until 1am, vowing to call the police if he heard sound from the festival after midnight.
However, council's director of planning Ray Darney said music after midnight would not be amplified.
Cr Tabart said he thought the event had already grown too big.
"Despite the accolades heaped on these festivals, it has grown at the community's expense," he said. "The cost to the community is never quantified."
The councillor who expressed the strongest support for the plans was Ray Kestle.
"I'd like to compliment the organisers because year after year they refine things," he said.
"You've got to look at this in a broader context. There isn't another town who wouldn't give their eye tooth to get these festivals and sometimes it seems we do out best to thwart them."