A major election issue for The Echo was Council’s failure with the tendering process.
Regulating commercial use of public spaces to ourselves, be it beaches or market sites, should not be an impossible feat.
It should allow established businesses to operate and not be bumped by cost. It should foster localisation where possible. This fault rests entirely with Council, both staff and councillors, not the businsesses who gave a ‘blind bid’ in the surf school tender process. There is little doubt staff and the outgoing/returning councillors have the knowledge to solve this, but the message is still muddled, which indicates confusion. And the result is inaction, which has affected the livlihood of those at the Byron Bay Surf School.
Here’s a clue: the NSW state government controls the supply of surf school licences. Does this not demonstrate that we are fooling ourselves and the state is ultimately in control?
It’s no secret that local government is not recognised by the constitution.
Here’s some of the things the state government has done to Council and this community:
They are apparently looking at splitting Fishheads’ rent from the Byron pool (leaving us with nothing) and they grabbed some Brunswick Heads caravan parks and turned them into commercial ventures that Council won’t benefit from.
The Echo looks forward to seeing whether Cr Woods’s claims of Greens mismanagement are indeed correct – or does the state do as it pleases? The state also doesn’t appear interested in funding a night doctor for Mullum hospital since our night cases are so low (despite overwhelming public opposition).
When asked directly whether E2 coastal zonings were scrapped from the draft LEP, Don Page ambiguously told The Echo, ‘Some aspects of Byron Council’s draft LEP don’t comply with the Department of Planning template and have been amended prior to public exhibition.’ Is that a dodge or doesn’t he know?
It should be acknowledged that as our local member of parliament, he now has clout in NSW parliament but remains ineffectual or uninterested in these issues. Having influence in the Sydney-based parliament would be hard for an outsider but we deserve better, even if it is tokenistic.
The great fear of course is that our lack of ability to self- regulate will land us with being administered directly by the state. As outgoing Jan Barham’s ‘freakout’ demonstrated at Thursday’s Council meeting over publicly talking about the tender process, ICAC is very familiar with us. Thankfully she added later in the day that amalgamation wasn’t on the cards as ‘nobody would have us’.
All the best for whoever wins on September 8.