Road rage: Backlash brewing over hardline new festival traffic rules

TAMWORTH Regional Council is bracing itself for backlash over stringent, new traffic restrictions to be introduced for the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

There have been a number of changes made to the CBD traffic management plan for next month’s festival, following recommendations by the NSW Traffic Management Centre.

The amendments, which are aimed at improving pedestrian safety, include slashing the number of vehicles permitted to enter closed roads; restrictions on access time for permit holders; introduction of escorted access for essential or urgent access by vehicles with permits; and provision of three additional temporary loading zones.

Councillor James Treloar predicted the “much sterner” approvals system would lead to “enormous problems”.

He said there would be a number of people “fairly angry with council”, not least the buskers.

“It’s hard work lugging amplifiers and speakers or whatever they need to venues where they are performing,” Cr Treloar said.

“It used to be pretty simple – people got given a pass, they would drive in, unload their gear, then go back and park the car.”

Mayor Col Murray said it was always difficult to strike the right balance between safety of the fans and the practical needs of the community.

“It’s always been an issue for us,” Cr Murray said. 

“Police from the central traffic unit came up here last year and did an audit and raised pedestrian safety as quite a serious issue that needed attention.

“We’re going have quite a bit of unrest from the natives, particularly the buskers and shopkeepers.”

Cr Murray said the higher profile of the festival in recent years and a trend towards risk mitigation were signs of the changing times.

“We’ve got an opportunity to go down this road or somebody could force us to go down a road tougher than this,” he said.

Under the new changes, vehicles, including those motorists with tenancy parking, will only have access to closed roads between midnight and 10am daily. 

Between 6pm and midnight there will be no access allowed to the closed areas with the exception of emergency vehicles. Temporary road closures will operate in the CBD from 6am on Wednesday, January 15 until 7am on Tuesday, January 28.

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