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Byron Bay bars Elton

Elton John caught in the middle of a battle between Bryon Bay Shire Council and Bluesfest.

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Elton John is a casualty of a "short-sighted" council policy in Byron Bay that has forced his planned concert to be moved to Queensland, a leading music promoter says.

Michael Chugg has weighed into a dispute between the annual music festival Bluesfest and Byron Shire Council over the council’s policy on big music events, limiting them to two a year.

‘‘I wish to see a more liberal policy that does not impose conditions that are unacceptable to me and the Australian music industry,’’ Chugg said on the Bluesfest website.

His company had spoken to Bluesfest director Peter Noble about using the festival site for a concert by Elton John in November, he said, ‘‘but the ridiculous short-sighted policy of the council has once more seen a major event go to regional Queensland.’’

Bluesfest wants to stage concerts on its land in Tyagarah outside Byron Bay in addition to its popular festival. But its organisers say the council’s moves will scuttle the plans. They also included holding an indigenous  festival under director Rhoda Roberts as well as a Shakespeare festival, a Bluesfest spokeswoman said. ‘‘It’s not all rock ’n’ roll.’’

The mayor of Byron Shire and Greens MP, Jan Barham, could not be reached today. She has reportedly said having two big annual music festivals – Bluesfest and Splendour in the Grass – was enough and that the council wanted an array of cultural events that catered not only for the young but also for families and older people.

Bluesfest director Peter Noble said that if the council did not amend its policy, the festival would have to move out of Byron Shire once its approval expired in 2020. It has gathered a petition with almost 10,000 signatures in a bid to have the issue debated in State Parliament.