Police have reacted to overseas terrorism incidents by imposing new regulations on Mountains festivals and parades.
Citing the Bastille Day attack in Nice, where 86 people were killed down by a man in a 19-tonne truck, Blue Mountains Police now require heavy-duty barricades to close roads.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that the bigger barriers must be used in festivals such as Leura and Glenbrook fairs, Blackheath Rhododendron Festival and Winter Magic.
“More substantial water-filled barriers are required to put in place instead of the post and rail barriers to prevent vehicle incursion (accidental or deliberate – think Nice, France, earlier this year),” she said.
The spokeswoman said that “regrettably” the new regulations will mean extra expenses. For this year only, council is supplying the barriers, which the RFS will fill.
A council spokeswoman said it would supply Leura, Blackheath and Glenbrook with the barriers as a one-off gesture because the new requirements were issued at short notice for those three events, “and the unexpected impost of associated costs for the water barriers that was not budgeted”.
Hiring 30 barriers would cost approximately $1,300 not including GST, labour or the cost of filling them.
A former president of the Rhododendron Festival, Sabine Erika, said she couldn’t understand why the new regulations were necessary.
“We have been told many times that we shouldn’t let terrorism affect our lives but our police force is being influenced by those sorts of happenings,” she said.
‘I just don’t understand the reasoning, the logic behind this change…. It’s alarming to me the ever-encroaching restrictions on our freedoms.”
Leura Village Association used the new barriers for its annual fair on October 8-9. LVA president, Barry Jarrott, said they had no ill-effects on what was a very successful festival; however, emptying them proved a handful.
Organisers had to clear all stalls before letting go tonnes of water down the Mall.
Blackheath’s Rhododendron Festival, on November 5, is also understood to be facing other new rules for its parade.
These include a ban on anyone riding in a vehicle without restraint.
This effectively rules out the Kookaburra Kindy float, where children from the local kindy have traditionally decorated a truck and travelled in it secured behind the wire sides of the truck and accompanied by parents and staff.
Local police have organised a briefing tomorrow night at Katoomba Station with council and the major festival organisers. The Blackheath and Leura committees declined to comment until after the briefing.
It is unclear whether the new requirements are statewide or have been applied only by Blue Mountains Local Area Command although a number of traffic management experts contacted by the Gazette said they had not heard of them being enforced in festivals in metropolitan Sydney.