The half-day public holiday will be reassessed next year.
The half-day public holiday will be reassessed next year. Rachel Vercoe

Reprieve for Cup day holiday

A HALF day public holiday has been approved for next year's Coffs Harbour Gold Cup, but calls are increasing to consider a more flexible 'event day' status.

The motion to approve the holiday was passed at last week's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting on the understanding the status be reassessed for the 2020 event.

Vice Chairman of the Coffs Harbour Race Club Shane Burns addressed the meeting, pleading the case to keep the public holiday on the region's calendar.

"If it was taken away it would threaten the viability of the club.”

At suggestions the event be moved to a Friday, he explained the club would get a lower percentage of TAB profits on that day.

"And on a Saturday we would be up against Sydney racing so this would substantially reduce revenue and Sundays tend to be low revenue days.”

The public holiday leads to significant disruption for school communities with buses only available in the morning to take students to school but not back home again in the afternoon.

President of the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce Martin Wells also addressed the meeting and acknowledged that it can be a touchy subject that goes to the very 'cultural fabric' of our community.

"The debate is becoming more and more emotive but the feedback we are getting from chamber members is that the impact on businesses as far as penalty rates etc is becoming more challenging and our members are expressing concerns around that impact,” Mr Wells said.

Like councillor Sally Townley, he would like to see an event day considered which offers more flexibility for individual businesses to negotiate with their staff.

"That way those who are keen to attend can apply for a half or full day off. We don't see that that would impact on the race day negatively as those who want to go, will still go.”

Deputy mayor Tegan Swan noted that regional racing has reduced in popularity over the years and she would like to see what strategies the club has for boosting attendance.

She would also like to see a more open consideration given to changing the date of the event.

The motion to keep the half day public holiday was supported by Crs Knight, Amos and Rhoades but opposed by Crs Townley and Swan.