Byron's event policy on display

THE controversial draft events policy slammed by Splendour in the Grass organisers is one step closer to reality, after Byron Shire councillors voted yesterday to put it on public exhibition.

Splendour in the Grass director Jessica Ducrou, who last week announced that Splendour would be moving to Woodford next year, is among many event organisers who are critical of the council document, saying it stifles innovation, is negative, onerous and unsupportive of festivals, and will put the future of all festivals in the shire under threat.

Some of the proposals in the policy include limiting the number of large festivals (up to 16,500 people a day) to two a year, and a stipulation that large events will not be supported during the summer school holiday period.

In a submission to the council, more than 20 Byron Shire event organisers, represented by Arts Northern Rivers, argued council should not impose limits on the capacity, location or timing of events.

During public access at yesterday’s council meeting, Arts Northern Rivers head Lois Randall said industry had not been adequately consulted and called for a stakeholder meeting to completely revise the policy before it was made public.

Ms Randall said most other councils in the region had events policies that supported, encouraged and attracted events. But supporters of the policy, including those who live near the proposed Splendour site at Yelgun, argued the policy was ‘basically fair’ and that the Splendour ‘dummy spit’ made it an excellent time for the community to have its say. Ocean Shores resident Mark Lycos said Splendour was planning to have six large festivals at Yelgun each year and that the existing two large festivals – Bluesfest and Splendour – were ‘more than enough’ for the Byron Shire.

Councillor Basil Cameron said it was about time the council put the policy out as it had been with council for 12 months.

In a concession to event organisers, councillors voted that the submission from Arts Northern Rivers be considered in the review of the policy after the completion of the exhibition period, and the event guidelines that would accompany the policy be developed as part of the community and industry consultation process.

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