No NYE event at Ford Park for Merimbula

Fireworks - but not at Ford Park.
Fireworks - but not at Ford Park.

Merimbula’s New Year’s Eve event has been a must-attend for many people with music, stalls and fireworks at Ford Park but this year there will be nothing at Ford Park after concerns by police about safety.

Tourism manager at Merimbula Visitor Information Centre Chris Nicholls said it was a joint decision by the MVIC, council and the police after discussion about safety issues.

There will be fireworks but not at Ford Park, Mr Nicholls said.

“There will still be the two much celebrated fireworks displays at 9.30pm and at midnight. However, Ford Park will not play host to the NYE concert event this year,” he said.

The event appears to have suffered from its own success growing considerably in the last five years.

“It’s getting too big for Ford Park; it was 2000 people but now it’s between 10,000 and 15,000 and in a small space and there are security and safety issues,” Mr Nicholls said.

“NSW Police said they can’t guarantee the security of people,” he added

He said that there were always issues with alcohol and drugs and “issues associated with the procedural side”.

He said the traffic management was needed as well as more security and it was costly.

Police has originally asked for the event to be alcohol free, a matter that was discussed at council recently but councillors were against the idea.

“We found that if we followed all the requirements it would have put severe pressure on the evnt and would have marred it,” Mr Nicholls said.

“We have to be responsible. It’s no one’s fault. Police and council are right, it has to be done properly.”

Mr Nicholls feels that it’s time for the event to the rebuilt and not just as a one night event.

However for this NYE Mr Nicholls said the fireworks will go ahead, will be visible throughout Merimbula and environs.

“A map and list of key vantage points to view the event will be published and issued to the public available at the Merimbula Visitors Information Centre, supplied to media and posted online closer to the event.

“We hope the community will enjoy the changes this year, which the organisers feel will not only enhance the community experience but give many restaurants, clubs, hotels and motels throughout Merimbula the ability to host NYE events in their own premises and for all to share the fireworks spectacular.  It will also make it a safer more family, and individual-friendly event for the entire community.

“Ongoing we plan to reinvent the NYE event to allow for families to enjoy fireworks and music in a different format.  We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this late change and we encourage the public to provide their feedback as to what would be their preferred way to celebrate NYE in Merimbula in future,” Mr Nicholls said.

The last time there was no a fireworks-only event was in December 2011 but it did not get a good reception from locals or visitors.

Merimbula News Weekly has asked police for a comment.