Poor Ballina Cup turnout puts race-day holiday at risk
THERE is major doubt whether Ballina Shire will have a local public holiday for the Ballina Cup next year following poor attendance at last Friday's race day.
Ballina mayor David Wright who attended last Friday's race meeting, said it would be "hard to justify" a public holiday next year.
"I think it's going to be tough next year (to get the holiday approved)," he said.
"We need to look at what's best for the whole community."
General manager of the Ballina Jockey Club, Matthew Bertram, confirmed only about 2000 people attended the race day last Friday, while the shire's population is around 40,000.
And a spokesperson from the NSW Department of Education said the attendance at Ballina Public School and Southern Cross School K-12 on Cup day was only 25%, while Ballina High School had an attendance figure of 50% as parents chose not to send their children to school rather than pick them up at noon when the holiday kicked in.
Cr Wright said he had received "mostly negative feedback" about the public holiday in the lead-up to this year's annual race day.
He said the main issues raised were the penalty rates businesses have to pay employees during the holiday period and the "inconvenience" to parents of school children.
And he said the State Government had approved this year's part-day public holiday only the week before the race day - much later than in previous years.
The change from a half-day holiday to a part-day holiday - noon to 6pm - last year aimed to reduce the financial impost on local business owners, particularly in the hospitality sector.
Cr Wright said council approved the holiday this year as it wanted to show support to the Ballina Jockey Club which has plans for a major redevelopment of its track.