Ballina to lose public holiday
BALLINA Shire will not have a public holiday for the Ballina Cup for the next two years, with Ballina Shire Council approving "local event" days instead.
Ballina's mayor, Cr David Wright, said the "local event day" meant schools would remain open and businesses would not have to pay penalty rates on Cup day.
He said council made its decision following a poor turnout at the past two Cups and criticism from both parents of school children and regional businesses based in Ballina.
Attendance at the past two Cup meetings was 2000 people with the shire's population being around 42,000.
Cr Wright said the council had copped flak from parents who had to pick their children up from schools because they closed at noon for the Cup holiday - local public schools generally reported poor attendance rates on the past two Cup days.
The council also copped criticism from businesses based in Ballina servicing regional clients which had to stay open on Cup day, and pay penalty rates during the public holiday hours.
Cr Wright said his preference was to see the Cup held on a weekend in conjunction with another community event like the Prawn Festival.
General manger of the Ballina Jockey Club, Matthew Bertram, said the club was happy to work with council's decision.
The club had applied for the public holiday for the next two years following changes to State Government requirements, which aim to reduce paperwork.
But he said there was a lot of uncertainty over next year's race day - the interim date is September 8 - considering the development application for the multi-million dollar revamp of the race track will soon be lodged with council.
It is estimated work on the track could take between six to nine months and, depending on the approval process, may have started before the Cup is scheduled to run.
But he said he didn't think the change from a quarter-day public holiday to a local event day would have much impact on the race day.
"It'll still be a great day," he said.
He said a future board would have to decide whether it would apply for a public holiday after 2017.