Why should visitors to Brunswick Heads have private access to public lands while the residents are excluded?
It was just one of many unanswered questions that were again brought up on Saturday at the second public information session, held by North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) manager, Jim Bolger.
Plans by NCHP to develop the town’s three holiday parks and five Crown foreshore reserves are currently on public exhibition.
And at both meetings, residents expressed confusion, anger and exasperation as to why access they had enjoyed over generations should be taken away at NCHP’s discretion.
But it was not only public access and boundary encroachments that were sore points for locals.
Resident Sean O’Meara told The Echo, ‘The town is basically under attack from privatisation,’ referring to the state-run private corporation NCHP.
In backing the claim, elderly long-time Brunswick Heads resident and father of Sean, D’Arcy O’Meara, has told The Echo that local NSW Nationals MP Don Page first brought to his attention ‘this scam’ between the then-NSW Labor government and a ‘network of public servants’.
‘He explained to me the danger of how they would take possession of [the public assets],’ he said, ‘… isolating the community and eventually it would become the property of the state government… so they could sell it or lease it to people such as NCHP and other similar things. Mr Page said, “When we gain power in parliament, we will rectify this; we will dismantle it so it will come back to the local people.”
‘In government they’ve gone to water.’
Mr Page was asked for comment but no reply was received by the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, a closed meeting between Byron Council and NCHP’s Mr Bolger was held on Thursday, presumably to negotiate the long-running public access and boundary issues.
While questions to mayor Simon Richardson remain unanswered, Cr Di Woods told The Echo it was a ‘very intense’ meeting and ‘Council will form a submission for the Crown’s consideration, after it has received legal advice on many aspects in the proposed plans.’
‘My desire is to see an outcome for the community, visitors and the caravan parks, that gives everyone most of what they would like, but importantly, it is Brunswick Heads and its residents that need assurance that the village will not become another Noosa.
‘There are only approximately 1,600 residents, and it would be criminal in my view to destroy their amenity, and to negate the very thing that people come here for and that is the “simple pleasures” on offer for families.
‘I believe that the proposed plans will enable the holiday parks to become more expensive; however, while there’s nothing wrong with commercial interests improving their bottom line.
‘This could exclude those people that this community and business fraternity have worked so hard to attract.’
A short NCHP history