ORGANISER: Bluesfest Director Peter Noble.
ORGANISER: Bluesfest Director Peter Noble. Christian Morrow

Bluesfest blames Byron Council for parking fee debacle

BLUESFEST Byron Bay organiser Peter Noble has blamed Byron Shire Council for the festival announcing parking fees to the festival after tickets went for sale.

Earlier this week, Bluesfest withdrew its appeal to the Administrative Tribunal, after punters complained that parking fees had been announced after tickets had gone for sale.

The Administrative Tribunal deemed Bluesfest Byron Bay had engaged in "misleading and deceptive conduct" regarding the parking fees.

Bluesfest is currently in the process of refunding those who had purchased parking tickets.

Peter Noble said the parking fee changes had first to be approved by Byron Shire Council as an amendment of their 2013 development consent, but that process took months longer than expected.

"This one didn't get called up to a Traffic Management Committee meeting until August (2018).

"We were thinking that would be the end of the matter and we were going to implement paid parking then, but then a councillor decided to call it up to a council meeting, and that meeting wasn't until December 11."

"On December 12 (2018), we announced paid parking, once council has assessed it and given the final OK."

Mr Noble said this is an issue that affects music festivals throughout NSW.

"When the NSW Parliaments' inquiry into the state of the music industry was issued in November 13, one of the major things they said that is damaging their businesses and their business certainty, is the time it's taking local government to deal with applications."

Mr Noble said he applied in 2014 to get definitive approval from the council for the event to happen at Tyagarah.

"In my opinion that is not something that should take five years to finalise, to give us permanent approval to operate in our site" he said.

"We find that we are handed a first approval (conditions) which we were handed two years ago, which we just cannot meet all the conditions, and it took us around eight months to cost out the conditions, and I think they came out at eight million dollars."

Mr Noble said he was disappointed the council did not call him to discuss the issue in person, given the benefits the event brings to the area.

"There is this big gap between Council and the Planning division," he said.

"We are pretty much seen closer to a house subdivision in terms of our roads, but the benefits are not looked at and there is no expedition."

"We deal with some great people at council, but they seem to be understaffed, or... I don't know what it is."

Byron Shire Council was contacted for comment.