New year day morning at Belongil.
New year day morning at Belongil.

Byron New Year clean-up blows the budget

THE final cost of cleaning up Byron Bay post New Year's eve is expected to be nearly $10,000 more than the local council budgeted after one of the biggest crowds in years swamped the town.

Cash-strapped Byron council had allocated $35,000 for the cleanup, but the final cost is expected to be $44,463 once further charges like tip fees are taken into account.

The clean up costs and other details of the celebrations that have been widely condemned by locals for trashing the town, are revealed in a report to council which includes input from all stakeholders.

Many revellers were avoiding police alcohol confiscation points by accessing Apex Park, the centre of celebrations, via the beach and other paths.

One of the bottle shops close to the park appeared not to be complying with Byron Liquor Accord strategies for reducing risk.

"People were observed emerging from the shop with alcohol and walking directly to Apex Park to consume it," the report states.

Extra alcohol-free signage was placed throughout the park but rangers reported that most people spoken to admitted to "seeing signage but ignoring it".

When the electricity failed at 11pm, stallholders reported groups of thieves were stealing items from their displays.

Many stakeholders reported that the 'energy' of the evening took an ugly turn after 10pm when there was an increase in the number of young, intoxicated people in the town.

The worst affected streets for 'car camps' were Kendall St, Dryden St, Milton St, Sommerset St, Butler St and Tennyson St, with Belongil a particular hot spot this year, according to the report.

Byron Bay Hospital reported a busier period than usual for that time of year with a total of 104 patients from midnight December 31 to the same time on January 1.

Communication among emergency and event personnel was hampered by the failure of mobile reception on the night.

Police estimate 15,000 people celebrated New Year in the town.

Over 15.5 tonnes of bottles, rubbish and human waste was collected from the town during the clean up.

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