Council plans to slash six hours off Ballina Cup holiday

BALLINA Cup looks set to remain a part-day public holiday in 2014, but only between midday and 6pm.

Ballina Shire Council has supported the six-hour public holiday instead of the traditional 12pm-12am timeframe in response to concerns from businesses, particularly restaurants, about penalty rates.

The council will now confirm a date with the Ballina Jockey Club before applying for the quarter day public holiday with NSW Treasury.

Ballina Jockey Club manager, Craig Kelly, said it was essential that Cup day continued to be a public holiday.

"It is important to show Racing NSW that Ballina supports its racing industry," he said.

"We are in negotiations for a major redevelopment of our track and training facilities ... It could be worth about $8 million to us.

"It will be the biggest spend on a country track in NSW.

Should the Ballina Cup holiday end at 6pm?

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"It signals a boom in racing for Ballina - with this development we can expect to have more than 250 horses stabled here. We have trainers that want to move here.

"The allocation or non allocation of a public holiday for the Cup will have an impact.

"It will affect our revenue.

"Ballina Cup is our major income-earning day.

"It's the one day that we hang our hat on."

Concerns were also raised about the closure of schools at 12pm on Ballina Cup day, which caused problems for families because buses did not operate in the afternoon.

But Mayor David Wight - who is a school teacher - said he believed schools and families would be better prepared next year.

Cr Sue Meehan said it was important to continue the Ballina Cup tradition.

"In our town there are precious few traditions," she said.

"The Ballina Cup is 100 years old and I want to support it."

Crs Paul Worth and Jeff Johnson did not vote for the part-day public holiday for the Cup, saying it was an event for the minority of the town's population.

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