BLOCKING off half of Byron Bay to traffic from 6am on New Year’s Eve was bad for business, contributed to traffic mayhem and sent tourists a message they weren’t wanted, a local restaurant owner says.
The businessman, who did not want to be identified for fear of vindictiveness toward him, said yesterday’s road closures blocked access to at least half of the town’s public parking spaces, forcing customers away on one of the busiest trading days of the year.
“If customers can’t come to town and get a park, they’ll go elsewhere and won’t want to come back,” he said.
“In the past, we’ve had customers who’ve made a reservation but decided to go onto Bangalow because they couldn’t get a park.”
He said retailers in the closed off precinct would likely be hardest hit, with flow-on effects for the entire business community.
The road closures took in the top end of Jonson Street, Fletcher Street north of Bay Lane, Bay Street west of Jonson Street and Middleton Street north of Lawson Street.
A mini carnival and rides were set up in the 95-space Main Beach car park and cars were not able to access the 135-space north Lawson Street car park.
The restaurant owner said he was not consulted about the road closures and did not believe other businesses had been either.
He said the road closures were also in effect last year, but did not begin until 6pm.
According to Byron Shire Council, the road closures were necessary to ensure ‘safe management on the night’.
But the restaurant owner believes Byron has moved on from past troubles, and there was no justification for yesterday’s closures.
“I know there were reasons for blocking off the town in the past, but the riots were a long time ago and Byron’s grown up a bit since then,” he said.