Reporting on Byron Shire Council would be much less colourful if local government masochist Fast Buck$ decided to retire from his public-nuisance hobby horse (it’s a recurring threat).
And while using morning public access as a personal therapy session certainly adds theatre to policy making, it’s also awkward at times.
For example, calling the mayor a ‘small man’ is simply playing the man and not the ball. Serious questions lose credibility in light of such delinquency. And that can lead to the print media using valuable ink and paper to focus on those inane distractions instead.
Is Buck$ the Lenny Bruce of Byron Shire without the Jewish wit?
Regardless, one of Buck$’s bugbears this week was – again – reflective of his personal experiences with local government: Why are some compliance matters against residents kept confidential, given that the defendant is usually not asked if they wish it to remain confidential?
A courteous phone call could alert you to the fact that your activities are being discussed behind closed doors.
Sounds fair enough.
As it happened, councillors agreed that day for general manager Ken Gainger to commence ‘Class 4 proceedings in the Land and Environment Court’ against the use of the property at 3822 Pacific Highway, Tyagarah.
Moving on, it was another full day of policy which had me wishing I had brought more popcorn and pillows.
Creating a noise data history of major festivals held at North Byron Parklands in Yelgun moved closer with all councillors agreeing to consider ‘undertaking independent noise monitoring’ after meetings with those concerned.
Cr Richardson’s motion states that there are ‘apparent inconsistencies in information provided.’
Heads up for possible water restrictions too: Cr Duncan Dey announced that Rous advised him at a recent meeting that as Rocky Creek Dam is close to 70 per cent capacity, water restriction implentation is imminent. ‘I don’t think they made an estimate of when that is,’ he said, ‘but they will probably be during March if we don’t get rain.’
Byron alcohol-related violence
Cr Dey also advised Council that after the recent Byron Bay Liquor Accord meeting, ‘statistics that the police collect are showing a continuing fall… and the general trend through the summer is in a downward direction for crime statistics in relation to alcohol.’
Again moving on, a regional transport plan by the state government that was presented to the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) was met with ‘significant outrage,’ said the mayor.
‘NOROC in general were significantly outraged that it was an incredibly weak and flimsy document,’ he said.
‘It was very scant on any sort of evidential data; it was as atrocious as I think all the member councils expected it to be and it was incredibly disappointing.’
The mayor said no timeframes were given, no money allocated, no action plan or commencement dates were provided other than ‘there will be one’.
In related planning news, the mayor added that he has discovered that the north coast-specific E zones for the local environment plan (LEP) have been on the desk of NSW planning minister Brad Hazzard for four months.
The planned political demonstration against possibly the meanest and dumbest federal government in Australia’s history has been given the green light for March 16.
But March in March, which will see Byron Bay take part in a nationwide action, saw councillors divided on whether to support it.
Crs Woods, Cubis, and Hunter pushed for being apolitical with Abbott and his henchmen and one woman, and an amendment which failed by Crs Woods/Cubis would have seen Council not give the organisers a slight leg up with fees. Cr Cubis said that, while he supports their right to protest, ‘it is inappropriate to pay for the march,’ and to align yourself with the group is ‘a step too far’.
But Cr Cameron’s motion passed, with conditions for the go-ahead including that traffic control and escort be provided by the police and that public liability insurance be in place for the sum of at least $20 million. The event will also be notified on Council’s website and in Council’s notices in The Echo at no cost to organisers.
Lastly, and by no means inclusive of everything that transpired, a request to ‘review’ Council’s plant replacement program by Cr Alan Hunter brought about vivid recollections of the psychological battles played out on BBC’s Yes Minister.
Yes, councillors, there was slight tension in the air as Cr Hunter pushed for a non-threatening sit-down with staff to look over procurement costings for items such as ride-on lawnmowers.
Good luck, Alan!