NYE in balance
IN response to media reports regarding New Year's Eve in Byron Bay and the subsequent feedback regarding my edited comments, I offer the following:
Firstly, the comments I made regarding 2012 NYE celebrations were mine. They were not made on behalf of Byron United (BU) or Byron Bay Liquor Accord.
Secondly, those comments were based on my own experience in the CBD and the police report advising that "NYE was without major concern".
At the time, I was not aware of illegal camping and abuse of locals, private property or public amenities etc. Rest assured, neither myself nor BU advocate anti-social behaviour, violence, illegal camping or littering at any time, anywhere. In fact, we spend thousands of dollars and volunteer man-hours keeping the town clean.
The NYE Safety Committee informed us that there were no funds for fireworks. BU members in turn generously donated to NYE and community carols in the park. The aim of NYE was to provide a family-friendly night for locals and visitors alike.
Mayor Simon Richardson thanked BU for again supplying fireworks for the NYE celebration on the council's website. He said: "This year the businesses have very kindly raised enough funds to feature two fireworks displays ... without their support, we would not be going out with a BANG… so to speak."
BU is as shocked as anyone else about what happened on NYE and what this means for future celebrations in our town. We are now even more resolved to work closely with council, community groups, police and other stakeholders to make sure we learn and succeed.
There's no question that, as a community, we need to co-operate more effectively to give this town and its inhabitants what they deserve - a safe, happy place to see in every new year.
NSW Police has reported that they are under-resourced throughout the year. Byron Council has reported that there is not enough money to maintain amenities, roads, general infrastructure and services burdened by the high number of visitors. We need to keep our supply and demand in sync.
This is no easy task.
BU has identified a more equitable distribution of council revenue. Specifically, I am calling for our significantly high business taxes, rates and fees to fund activities, services and amenities that will best serve our community, its residents and visitors.
We're also working with local and state government to source special assistance funding to cope with increasing pressures on our town. This is especially relevant given the NSW government is promoting Byron Bay as the State's No 2 tourist destination outside Sydney and has goals in place to double our visitation by 2020.
I would also like to clarify some misconceptions about BU:
It is a not-for-profit organisation.
Our membership is mostly small, privately owned businesses across all sectors.
The board is made up of self-employed owner/operators who volunteer their expertise and time.
We welcome all business owners to join us, keep informed, have a say and help make a difference.
We encourage all business owners to nominate to join the board and/or sub-committees.
The more members and volunteers, the more capacity we have to represent the business community.
Most of our members businesses are 100% locally owned; they live locally with their families, they employ locals, buy from locals, are serviced by locals.
These same businesses are responsible for much of the shire's sponsorships and fundraising initiatives.
The focus of our tourism campaign, Byron Naturally, attracts respectful visitors who appreciate our unique shire and values.
I look forward to being part of a strategic, co-ordinated approach to future event planning. I'm not suggesting we have all the answers, but we'd like to help find some long-term solutions. I look forward to turning our constructive conversations into action and unite Byron for a better, brighter, future.
Byron United president
Worst NYE ever
WE live in Melaleuca Drive (off Ewingsdale Rd) and had the most unpleasant experience this New Year, when our road was posted on Facebook as the road and place to camp for New Year.
On New Year's Eve morning I drove to town at 6.45am for my normal lighthouse walk and saw about 10 vehicles parked in our road. As it is often a campsite for two to three vans and cars, I accepted it as inevitable for that time of year there were more.
I came home and pulled over and spoke to four girls and said the rubbish around their vehicles was really bad and I hoped they would take it with them. I also pointed to the evidence of a bushfire caused by a campfire in November. I expressed my safety and rubbish concerns in a polite manner.
The girls promised me it would all be cleaned up and that there would be no fires that night. Thirty minutes later I ventured into work along the bike path. As it was crowded I had to ring my bell on a few occasions to try and get through the layers of people. Not fun to be told to f**k off and ride on the grass. Lovely. Nice way to start my day.
That afternoon our road was full of cars, people sitting on the road drinking and the rubbish had got worse. The next day the lovely neighbours and I spent a long time cleaning our road, as most locals did. We overfilled their backhoe with tents, tarps, blankets, clothes and trash.
What scares me is that we found a gas canister in the middle of a mattress with the tent all burnt out to one side and a campfire in front of the tent.
My friends who with their three sons traditionally come to Byron every year for two weeks said they will not be back next year.
I do not know the answer to the town's problem, but definitely would like barriers on our road with access for residents only. We need to avert a potential bush and homes fire disaster.
MORE NYE LETTERS, PAGE 43
THE anti-CSG antagonists are amazing in their misrepresentation of events.
If their case is so solid, why did they hijack the Lismore information meeting, preventing landowners who are actually affected by potential mining sites from the opportunity to ask questions? They now pretend that there was some genuine Q and A time.
What a joke!
They only allowed their pre-arranged questions to be presented by pre-arranged presenters and gave no genuine opportunity for answers.
If their case is so solid, why do they hijack every meeting and prevent a genuine exchange of information?
Perhaps they are afraid their brainwashed followers may learn some facts. The Lismore City Council is prepared to spend $6000 on CSG signs but they were not prepared to join Richmond Valley Shire on the CSG fact-finding trip to Queensland.
Once again we see reluctance to gain accurate knowledge. We only hope the signs give the accurate voting figures when they are erected. There were 30,204 voters on the roll and 21,608 voted no to CSG.
That certainly is not 87%.
The Byron Shire mayor has stated he will support renewable energy. All those wind farm turbine towers will look wonderful around the Byron coast and hinterland.
As we need energy soon, we hope he is pursuing some of the wind farm companies to mine the wind on Australia's most eastern coast.
We also hope we do not see the same anti-CSG people objecting to these structures. We need reliable, cost-efficient energy. Wind and sun do cannot provide that.
Ian & Darrelyn Sharman,
Gas survey in Byron
IT WAS wonderful to see your front page coverage of the gasfield-free communities survey in Broken Head last week.
Unconventional gas mining is a very real threat to our water and food security, not to mention our immediate health if we live near a gasfield. It is a major producer of potent greenhouse gases, and we all know that the warming of our planet is happening unpredictably fast.
We must educate and unite our communities to resist this technology. There is excellent information on the website www.csgfreenorthern rivers.org, where the survey strategy is also detailed. Unfortunately you used the word "shire" instead of "Bay". You wrote that "the survey of the rest of the shire will begin in late February".
In fact, the survey process has been
under way in Byron Shire for some months now, with Main Arm and Nashua already completed with results of 98% and 100% respectively wanting to see our communities gasfield free. Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby, Federal/Goonengerry and Newrybar are all at various stages in the survey process and seed groups are active in Byron Bay, Ocean Shores and Bangalow.
I would encourage readers to visit our website www.csgfreebyronshire.org to find out what is happening in their local areas and to get involved by contacting the co-ordinators. If there is no active group in their local area, they could start one.
Co-ordinator, CSG Free Byron Shire
Value in the village
COUNCIL'S Settlement Strategy for Bangalow was created to put in place a plan and vision for the future of Bangalow village.
Residents of Bangalow and the surrounding community embraced the plan, which recognises the heritage value of the village and the need to maintain the atmosphere and charm of the main street and Station St.
The strategy has worked well for Bangalow, making it a popular destination for visitors, and a meeting hub for locals.
We are now faced with a development that is not in keeping with strategic guidelines for the heritage precinct of Byron and Station streets. The huge development proposed for Station St has ignored all that makes Bangalow unique.
At a public meeting recently, local people opposing the development were accused of being "afraid of change" and "parochial". Despite this, many locals politely expressed wishes for Station St to be developed in a sensitive manner, taking into consideration the village atmosphere.
Rather than "afraid of change, I heard many say they would fully accept development that retained the character of the village and did not impact negatively on the basic infrastructure of the town - parking, schools, public halls and traffic.
It is the size and style of this development that many find so unacceptable. I encourage everyone who enjoys Bangalow as a village, to write a submission to Byron Council strongly against this DA.
Council v corporates
PAULINE Kapral takes issue with the Byron Shire Council for fighting the large corporations' attempted, and at times successful, entry into our towns (BSN Letters, January 17).
She could add McDonalds and Club Med to the list.
While she seems to sympathise with these large corporations, those of us who voted Simon's council in, that is, the majority, take a different stance.
Why should these large companies be allowed to bully our local population into accepting their entry? Why should we be forced to battle them in the courts to retain our unique identity that makes the Byron Shire so appealing to tourists worldwide?
Isn't it the view of a locally elected council an integral part of democracy?
If Pauline listened to radio reports on Woolies' ruthless treatment of our farmers, read an article in Choice magazine, "Where are supermarket products sourced?", (Sept 6, 2012) as well as many reports on unfair competition practices, she would perhaps understand our dislike of this "big firm".
Likewise, our council should be allowed to challenge the entry of multinational fast food outlets, responsible for so much obesity and overpackaging, and not be dictated to by the Land and Environment Court.
THE recent fish and crustacean kill in the government's marine park at Tallow Creek is another environmental disaster.
And the Marine Park Authority designates Tallow Creek as one of their Special Purpose Zones!
Labor/Green spin doctors worked frantically trying to hoodwink the community their marine parks, "will protect our marine biodiversity and associated ecosystems." The reality is nothing could be further from the truth.
Marine parks don't protect any marine organism or ecosystem, from the real threats.
This latest massive fish kill simply serves to reinforce the community view, that current marine parks don't protect anything at all. They only needlessly ban family fishing. They are truly environmental duds.
KFC alarm bells
WHEN it comes to their commercial interests it is unwise to underestimate the deviousness of the white-shoe brigade. So alarm bells sound as more is revealed about the DA for a KFC in Byron Bay. It's one thing to try to wedge the incompatible KFC brand into the internationally recognised Byron Bay brand but, leaving aside the obvious philosophical horror that KFC's battery chickens (and the irresponsible packaging) are to most Byron residents, the flagrant effrontery of the DA is astonishing - removing an established street tree, erecting an eight metre pylon sign, no toilets despite exceeding the seating limit, no additional parking despite fast takeaways, and multiple daily deliveries into a famously inaccessible carpark.
Assuming the time and expense required to lodge a DA is not trivial, you would expect a carefully prepared application, yet, curiously, this DA seems designed to fail! Is there another agenda? The bells, the bells ...