Pressure mounts on Berrigan council to pull support from Strawberry Fields festival

A previous Strawberry Fields festival.
A previous Strawberry Fields festival.

A RETIRED nurse is asking councillors whether it’s appropriate they support a music festival “shown to be a venue where drugs are consumed/inhaled?”.

Olywn Mathers has put that question and others related to the Strawberry Fields festival, one of the region’s largest and wildest music festivals, to Berrigan Council.

The gathering on the Murray River near Tocumwal has previously drawn criticism from police over drug use.

Mrs Mathers has urged councillors in a letter to not back a development application for this year’s festival.

“Do you think it is appropriate to support a festival which has been shown to be a venue where drugs are consumed/inhaled?” she asked.

“If so, is this not a contradiction when the council has also supported programs for educating our youth about the dangers of alcohol and drugs?

“How would you feel if you or your loved ones were involved in a serious accident caused by one these festival goers driving whilst physically/mentally impaired?”

Mrs Mathers spoke about her concerns at Wednesday’s council meeting and was told by mayor Matt Hannan they would be considered when an application was received from festival organisers.

Strawberry Fields event director Billy Staughton defended the approach taken to drug and alcohol use.

He said 1500 tests for drugs and alcohol were conducted on the private property hosting the festival last year, in addition to roadside stops by NSW and Victoria police.

He said organisers paid for a NSW police presence on the festival grounds, had St John’s ambulance personnel on-site and a doctor.