Albert hotel publican Nick Weir hits out at drop in country music festival business

DOWN DOWN: Albert Hotel publican Nick Weir says his end of the main drag is treated like "the wrong side of the tracks". Photo: Geoff O'Neill
DOWN DOWN: Albert Hotel publican Nick Weir says his end of the main drag is treated like "the wrong side of the tracks". Photo: Geoff O'Neill

ONE Tamworth publican has sounded-off about this year’s country music festival with every aspect of the business down this year.

The Albert Hotel’s outgoing publican Nick Weir said the downturn came following two years of growth.

“Every aspect of the business was down this year, the bar was down, the pokies were down and the bistro was down,” Mr Weir told The Leader.

“The reason behind that is that council is trying to move the festival down towards Bicentennial Park, having it as the epicentre.

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“To be honest, I feel like we get treated as though we are on the wrong side of the tracks for 365 days a year.”

Mr Weir, a former chair of the local liquor accord, also hit out at the suggestion of a new events levy on local businesses proposed by council last year.

“My expenses through festival are absolutely massive as it is,” he said.

“That’s putting on extra staff, putting up marquees, putting on extra security staff, putting on extra drinks, it’s a massive expense.

“To be thinking they want to put a levy on us, I know I’m not going to be in there for much longer, but I feel sorry for the people who are still there.”

It was hit-and-miss for retailers in the re-opened block between Brisbane and Bourke streets this year, with some confirming business was also down, while others had their best festival in years.

Tamworth mayor Col Murray said feedback he’s hearing is largely positive.

“Festival went exceptionally well,” Cr Murray said.

“The feedback is really positive with good reports from the venues.”

Cr Murray said any word he’s received on council’s suggestion to impose an events levy has followed a pretty consistent line wanting a focus on bringing new events in.

“We’ll have new facilities at AELEC, new sporting facilities and potentially a new aquatic centre that could host some large regional events,” he said.

“This is about how we accommodate that and find money to attract new events.

“Events are put out to market and if the budget is empty than we’re basically snookered.”

While some businesses may baulk at the prospect of another fee on top of their current rates, the mayor said Tamworth’s average business rates were already cheaper than a lot of similarly-sized cities.

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