Fireworks as beach council fights for the right to party

A seaside council which spends $250,000 putting on New Year’s Eve entertainment at Glenelg and Brighton says it will cut the event back to just fireworks unless the state government kicks in more money.

May 19, 2023, updated May 19, 2023
Around 100,000 people attended New Year's Eve events across Glenelg and Brighton last year. Photo: City of Holdfast Bay/Facebook

Around 100,000 people attended New Year's Eve events across Glenelg and Brighton last year. Photo: City of Holdfast Bay/Facebook

Holdfast Bay mayor Amanda Wilson sent a letter to Premier Peter Malinauskas last month asking the Department of Premier and Cabinet for a $75,000 grant to support New Year’s Eve celebrations in Brighton and Glenelg.

The state government already provides $25,000 to support the unticketed event, which last year ran from 7pm to 12.45am with two fireworks shows and live music from DJs, party bands and the Australian Rock Collective.

The council said 85,000 people flocked to Glenelg Beach for New Year’s Eve last year, while 15,000 gathered at Brighton.

Wilson said the council spends more than $250,000 on the event each year – roughly a quarter of the council’s annual events budget – but the investment “generates very little return for local businesses”.

“The timing of the event does not support retail trade, and all hospitality venues are already at capacity,” Wilson wrote.

“When considering the events budget for 2023/24, Council has had to consider the best value outcome for Holdfast Bay, balancing public, community, tourism and economic development benefits.

“Considering these factors, Council is no longer in the position to fund a New Year’s Eve celebration with state-wide impact without further assistance from State Government.”

More than $100,000 of Holdfast Bay’s New Year’s Eve event spend was on public safety measures, Wilson said.

This included $45,000 for security personnel, $26,000 for toilets, $15,000 for “safety lighting and fencing” and $8650 for St John and SA Ambulance services.

“Minimal incidents were reported by SA Police, Security and St Johns services which is credited to careful planning, stakeholder consultation and operational management,” Wilson said.

The additional $75,000 in state government support would go towards security services, an onsite doctor, additional lighting towers as well as “asset protection and the enforcement of dry zone areas in Glenelg”.

She also said it would fund an existing terrorism risk management plan that implements “Australia’s Strategy for Protection of Places Crowded from Terrorism”.

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Wilson told InDaily the New Year’s Eve program would have to be “scaled back” if the state government did not increase its funding.

“There wouldn’t be any entertainment,” she said.

“No entertainment, no lights, no sound – just fireworks.

“The bulk of the money still has to go into security, lighting, amenities and the street closures.

“[There would] be nothing for people to see beforehand, just fireworks.”

A state government spokesperson said Holdfast Bay Council’s funding request is under consideration.

“The City of Holdfast Bay’s request for State Government Funding Support for New Year’s Eve at Glenelg and Brighton is currently under consideration by the Department of Premier and Cabinet,” they said.

“The Malinauskas Government was proud to support council’s 2022-23 events with a contribution of $25,000, after the former government reduced funding for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 events to $20,000.”

Adelaide City Council’s 2022 New Year’s Eve program cost $511,000 which included a ticketed fireworks show in Rymill Park/Murlawirrapurka (Park 14) along with street parties scattered through the CBD.

The council is weighing up a $550,000 to $650,000 New Year’s Eve budget for 2023, which will include reinstating the traditional fireworks display at Elder Park for the first time since 2019.

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