Byron celebrations up to council
THE end of the year is drawing closer and for Byron Bay that means deciding what to do with the thousands of New Year’s Eve revellers who flock to the town each year.
In the past, the popular beachside destination has been plagued with instances of alcohol-fuelled, anti-social behaviour on the night as a result of large crowds looking for a place to party.
But last year, police declared Byron Shire Council got the ‘mix right’ with its strategy to restrict alcohol and promote a family-friendly, laidback event.
Today’s Byron Shire Council meeting will determine if the town’s mild New Year’s Eve celebrations will be maintained, enhanced or axed.
Councillors will vote for one of three New Year’s Eve strategy options.
The first includes axing entertainment and only providing waste, clean-up and safety services on the night in a bid to deter visitors from congregating in the Byron CBD.
The second option is to maintain a similar strategy to last year’s event by providing low-key family-friendly entertainment, with the possibility of street performers, an under-18s event and a lantern parade.
The last is to look into the possibility of having a larger event in the town complete with a stage, amusement rides and fire performance.
Despite the options, Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham is confident this New Year’s Eve will be the same as last – low-key, family-friendly and alcohol-free.
“I think the general support is to keep going the way we have been going,” she said.
“The way it has been managed ensures we have a safe event and considers the people in town. I think the support will be for option two.
“It’s a time of year when Byron Bay is at its peak and instead of trying to encourage more people to come for the event, we want to accommodate the people who are already in the town, and the locals who can enjoy what is on offer in their own town.”
Cr Barham said the possibility of creating a larger event was not an option for her as it was not manageable.
“We have worked with the police for the past 15 years and know that the focus of the town is to keep the celebrations in a manageable area,” she said.
“We don’t want to see the energy dispersed so policing becomes a lot harder.
“On the night, all the venues have ticketed events where people can go to have access to alcohol and alicensed event.”