Thousands gather for 'best ever' New Year's

Despite the cancellation of the midnight fireworks and a total alcohol ban, the owner of Bell’s Family Carnival says this year was the best New Year’s celebration he has ever seen.

Elwin Bell said, in the carnival’s 40 years of operation, this year’s Corrigans Beach event attracted the biggest crowd ever, with an estimated 2000 to 3000 people turning out to watch the 9.30pm fireworks.

“For the whole community, I’d say it was probably the best they’ve ever had here,” Mr Bell said.

This year police and Eurobodalla Shire Council announced the cancellation of the midnight fireworks and a 24-hour alcohol ban at Corrigans to improve safety, following last year’s problems with drunken behaviour.

Mr Bell said the changes didn’t dampen the New Year’s spirit.

“That part of it was excellent, the crowd was very well-behaved,” he said. 

“It was a very good night for families.

“You don’t have to let off six million dollars’ worth of them (fireworks) for people to enjoy it.”

Meanwhile police were out in force, nabbing drunk drivers, adults with drugs and people misbehaving at hotels.

A 23-year-old Junee man was more than four times over the legal limit when he was caught driving in Batemans Bay at 1.40am on New Year’s Day.

The man was stopped in Commercial Lane for a random breath test and was taken back to Batemans Bay Police Station where he returned a breath analysis reading of 0.207.

He was charged with high-range drink driving and will face Batemans Bay Local Court later this month.

A 40-year-old ACT man was also charged with high-range drink driving after recording 0.154 at 7.10am on New Year’s Eve.

He was caught on the Princes Highway in Batemans Bay and will face court in February.

An 18-year-old ACT man was charged with possessing ecstasy after he was stopped in a vehicle that was overloaded.

Just after 8pm on New Year’s Eve, police stopped the utility carrying seven people, some of whom were not wearing seatbelts.

They searched the man, who was a passenger, and found a container with two white tablets. He will appear in Batemans Bay Local Court later this month.

A 36-year-old man was charged with assaulting a security guard and failing to quit a licensed premises after he refused to leave a Batemans Bay hotel just before 1am.

After celebrating the New Year, the Batemans Bay man was asked to leave because he was drunk. He was escorted from the hotel but punched a security guard in the face.

Just before noon on New Year’s Day, a 43-year-old Surf Beach woman was caught low-range drink driving in Tallgums Way, Surf Beach. She recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.074 and will face court in February.

Batemans Bay Sergeant Dave Silversides said police were pleased with everyone’s behaviour on New Year’s Eve.

“In comparison to previous years, behaviour in and around Corrigans Beach, Malua Bay and Surf Beach, from a police perspective, improved,” he said.

“There weren’t any significant issues with intoxication at those areas.”

He also said police and council would assess the changes made this year in the coming months to determine what will be put in place next year.

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