Council rejects call to change Coffs Cup public holiday to a Local Event Day

Coffs Harbour’s tradition of holding a Coffs Cup part day public holiday on the first Thursday of August will continue next year, along with the possible addition of a Community Festival at Jetty Foreshores. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

AN application will be made to hold the Coffs Harbour Gold Cup part day public holiday in 2022, despite calls by some Coffs Harbour councillors to change the public holiday to a Local Event Day.

Council has applied for and been granted a public holiday for the annual Coffs Harbour Gold Cup since 1971. More recently Council has applied for a part day public holiday, which starts at 12 noon and finishes at 5:30pm.

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Coffs Harbour City councillors debated for more than an hour on whether to apply to hold the part day public holiday again in 2022 and 2023 at a Council meeting on Thursday 14 October.

Cr Sally Townley moved a recommendation at the Council meeting to hold a Local Event Day instead of a gazetted public holiday, which would no longer mandate the closure of businesses or the payment of penalty rates on the day.

“For four decades the Coffs Cup ran without the implications of people having to be paid penalty rates, without the disruption to schools,” Cr Townley said.

“We’ve tried this (the public holiday) for ten years, it’s really messy, it impacts everyone, why don’t we try for the next two years the Local Event Day?

“We’ve had ten years of paying people not to go to work because of the Coffs Cup, let’s go back to how it was and let’s make it fair.”

Cr Townley said under the Local Event Day there was “nothing to stop any employer freely choosing to give their workers a holiday”, but that it didn’t mandate it.

“It just lets everyone go about their business, go to the Cup if you want to go to the Cup,” Cr Townley stated.

“It doesn’t have the implication of stopping schools; it won’t impact on small business.

“Isn’t it time now to really have a look at it?”

Cr Tegan Swan supported the holding of a Local Event Day which “still shows our support, still shows our tradition”.

“I think a Local Event Day will actually suit the needs of those interested in attending (the Cup), while not impacting our community negatively in some pretty unreasonable ways,” Cr Swan stated.

“Shouldn’t we do what ‘s right rather than disadvantaging so many people to benefit a few?”

Cr Swan stated that the annual Coffs Cup Race Day had a negative economic impact on the local business community of around $36m collectively, compared to an estimated $1m economic benefit.

“At what point is tradition for tradition’s sake actually outdated and not in the best interest of our community?” Cr Swan asked.

“Local public holidays are supposed to significantly represent the interests of our community.

“Is it significant, it is representative of our community, is it worth the impact to our business community who have already suffered enough, is that really what we think is in the best interest of our community?”

Cr Paul Amos moved an amendment for Council to provide a report on the possibility of holding a Community Festival at the Jetty Foreshores for families to attend on the afternoon of the public holiday, in conjunction with the Coffs Harbour Gold Cup Race Day.

“It might turn into a really big event, something that could either rival or succeed the Coffs Harbour races,” Cr Amos stated.

“If we don’t fulfill this opportunity for other people to participate in the afternoon off I don’t think we are doing our job as councillors.”

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight supported the possibility of holding a Community Event in conjunction with the Coffs Cup.

“It will be interesting to receive a report into the possibility of funding a community half day festival at Jetty foreshores to be run on the same day as the Coffs Harbour Gold Cup,” Cr Knight said.

Cr Swan, however, warned councillors to be cautious about looking to hold a new Community Event as it may possibly conflict with the holding of the Coffs Cup.

“We are creating an event which is directly competing against their event, which is the reason they are asking for a public holiday in the first place,” Cr Swan stated.

“If we’re offering a community event we may possibly be undermining them in a sense.”

Cr Townley agreed and stated that while she loved the idea of Council funding a Community Festival at the Jetty Foreshores, she didn’t believe “joining these two events together actually serves the purpose of either of them”.

Scott Nolan spoke at the Council meeting on behalf of the Coffs Harbour Race Club Board and said the Club did not support or wish to seek Event Day status for the annual Coffs Cup Day.

A majority of respondents to Council’s Have Your Say page on the contentious issue did not support the public holiday classification for the day.

Following extensive debate, councillors voted 5 votes to 2 for Council to apply to the State Government for the part day public holiday (12 noon to 5.30pm) on the first Thursday in August 2022 for the Coffs Harbour Gold Cup.

Council will also receive a report into the possibility of funding a community half day festival at the Jetty Foreshores scheduled to run in conjunction with the proposed Coffs Harbour Cup Race day.

Existing market organisers and promoters may be canvassed to submit expressions of interest to promote a possible half day community event.

Crs Keith Rhoades, Denise Knight, Paul Amos, George Cecato and Michael Adendorff voted for applying for the Coffs Cup part day public holiday in 2022 and the report on the possible.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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