A church in New South Wales was forced to cancel its traditional New Year’s Eve street party because of the increased terror threat. Since the eve of the Millennium in 1999, St Aidan’s Church in Longueville, New South Wales, has staged a free open-air New Year’s Eve party. Its location on the banks of the Lane Cove River, with fantastic views of Sydney’s world-famous spectacular midnight fireworks show, made it a popular choice for Longueville residents. Last year, 4,000 people turned up for the church’s eve-of-midnight concert and barbeque. But senior minister Craig Potter explained that security measures designed to prevent an accident are not sufficient to prevent a deliberate attack.
Previously, the local council – which describes St Aidan’s New Year’s Eve event as “a great local initiative” – worked with the church to close Christina Street, on which the church is situated, to vehicles. “This year, because of what has happened in Melbourne with the two vehicles that have gone through crowds, it has changed the rules with street parties,” Potter told the North Shore Times. “In the past [the] council provides barriers to prevent an accident, but what we now have to do is prevent a deliberate attack. This means you can’t just use the traditional barriers you have to use jersey kerbs or water fuelled barriers, which then puts the cost right out of the water for us.”
The church budgets $3,000 AUD (approximately £1,700 GBP) for the event. The increased security measures would have cost $10,000. Despite his disappointment, Potter said he understood the revised security assessment.
“I agree with the police that if there is potential for something to happen however unlikely, it makes sense to prevent that. It probably surprises most people that the effects of terrorism can reach a community like Longueville, but I am not surprised at all.”
In the Australian State of Victoria, 17 people were injured and one man was killed when a car ploughed into pedestrians on Flinders Street, Melbourne, on 21 December. A man is due to appear in court in May facing one charge of murder, 17 charges of attempted murder, and one charge of conduct endangering life. The incident, while classed as deliberate, is said to be not terror-related.
In January 2017, a man drove a vehicle along the nearby Bourke Street, leading to the deaths of six people and 20 injured. That attack, near Melbourne’s Anglican Cathedral, came a month after Australian police foiled a planned Christmas Day terror attack on the cathedral.
Crowds gather to watch the fireworks heralding the arrival of 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.
Photo: St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Twitter
This year, the cathedral tweeted a photo of Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve firework display, with the message: “A blessed New Year to you from the heart of the City and Diocese of Melbourne. May God walk closely with you and yours in 2018.”
Back in Longueville, St Aidan’s continues to have support of the local council and hopes to resurrect its New Year’s Eve event for next year’s festivities.