17 C
Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

Councils fail to agree on library

Latest News

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Other News

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Linnaeus Estate DA raises concerns for residents

Community concern over the current development application (DA: 10.2021.170.1) for Linnaeus Estate in Broken Head has led to detailed analysis of the DA.

OCA a ‘diamond in the rough’

Around four years ago a group of like-minded friends started a Syntropic Farm project. Since that time, they have...

Michael Lyon elected as Byron Mayor

Owing to the resignation of former Mayor at the end of April, a vote was held today to replace Simon Richardson, until the next election

Global predicament

Dudley Leggett – Director of Sustainability Research Institute, Suffolk Park Phillip Frazer’s article, (Echo 6 January) is an excellent summary of...

A confusion of letters in Ocean Shores

Apparently, there is another Ocean Shores in another part of the world, and they have deer…

Luis Feliu

A round-table meeting on Tuesday between all four member councils of the Richmond-Tweed Regional Library (RTRL) failed to reach agreement on how the service should be managed.

The three-hour meeting in Mullumbimby ended with Byron Shire Council at odds with the three other councils (Lismore City, Tweed and Ballina) by maintaining its push for the service to be run under the previous shared-arrangement model instead of it being managed by Lismore City Council.

The meeting was called to explore various options for an agreement to run the library service in the wake of concerns that the current draft agreement by which Lismore council manages the service is in effect a ‘takeover’, not transparent, and causing uncertainty among library staff about their futures.

Tweed and Ballina councils have given in-principle support for the current administrative model and Lismore Council will consider at its March 14 meeting adopting the draft regional library and service-level agreements under which it now has run the service for around 18 months.

Byron mayor Jan Barham said councillors from the four constituent councils did not understand the implications of the library administration being run by Lismore and it was ‘negligent’ of them not to pursue options other than the current model.

But Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell rejected that, saying four models had been previously explored and rejected and she would be ‘very happy’ for Lismore to hand over the service to another council if the administrative model was the preferred one.

‘We have no attachment to this, our staff have spent an inordinate amount of time on this,’ she said, but to hand its running back to a committee would be ‘a poisoned chalice’ and a ‘cop out’, Cr Dowell said.

But Cr Barham said Byron still wanted a shared agreement but other management options had to be properly looked into and the lack of information was ‘extremely disturbing’.

Cr Barham after the meeting said she would support a public campaign launched the previous day, supported by north coast MLC Catherine Cusack, to revive the county-council model under which the service was previously run and seek advice from relevant ministers and the state library service on the issue.

Independent facilitator of the meeting, Diana Roberts, said she was ‘disappointed but not surprised’ there had been no agreed option to run the service.

Ms Roberts later told Echonetdaily that it would be ‘a tragedy’ if Byron decided to go it alone as the library services for Byron Shire and other council regions would suffer as a result.

Reactivate committee

Ms Roberts said ‘it’s in Byron’s interest to come up with an alternative arrangement as soon as possible’ and that re-activating the former library committee, made up of councillors from the four councils, would help address some concerns.

Options discussed included a co-operative, a corporation, a charitable trust, county council model, a stand-alone service, incorporated organisation, a shared service and the current administrative model.

The library service has more than 100 staff at 12 libraries in the four shires plus a mobile library service and almost 130,000 member/users.

Martin Field, a former longtime director of the service before it was placed under Lismore’s administration under a draft five-year agreement in 2010, told the meeting the service before Lismore Council took over its management had become one of the best-performing library services in the state but under the new regime, operating costs and inefficiencies had increased.

Mr Field said a variety of options in running the service should be explored and all councils should have an equitable say in its operations.

Byron general manager Graeme Faulkner said he would recommend his council adopt the county council model as it was less ambiguous and gave community protection of library assets.

‘The safest way to move forward is to reinstate the RTRL committee and work towards a county council model,’ Mr Faulkner said.

But Ballina general manager Paul Hickey said councils could not go back to the past model as they could not ‘give any legal authority’ to the committee.

Cr Barham said it seemed ‘everyone has different information’ and ‘trust has broken down and needs rebuilding’.

Cr Dowell said it was unfortunate a lack of information had led to perceptions that service levels had dropped, and that ‘has to be fixed’ for the sake of transparency.

She said the general public was happy with the current running of the service and no complaints had been made.

Mr Faulkner said his concerns were that other member councils had ‘no control over decision making but all the liability in the world’, which is ‘totally unacceptable to ratepayers’.

Cr Tom Tabart said he would like to see is the service ‘run by a librarian not a beancounter, with strong oversight by a committee’.

After the meeting Mr Field told Echonetdaily if Lismore signed off on the draft agreement it would ‘give it the right to sell assets without consultation’.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Filming of Byron Baes begins with no indigenous consultation

Filming of the Netflix series Byron Baes has reportedly commenced without any effort made by the show's production company – Eureka Productions – to consult with local indigenous groups or the local Council.

Byron Comedy Festival launched with a laugh

At a hilarious sold-out launch of the Byron Comedy Festival, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki had the entire Byron Bay Surf Club giggling last night

School Strike for Climate next Friday

Next Friday from 10am Byron Shire students will be demanding political action on the climate emergency in what they and their supporters say is our present, future and reality.