In last week’s Echonetdaily Eve Jeffery covered the topic of Cr Woods’s thankfully unsuccessful bid at Council’s meeting on 17 May to basically lock council into a position of support and, ultimately, responsibility for the costly installation and maintenance of CCTV cameras in Byron Bay. The story was appropriately headed ‘Tackling Byron’s alcohol-driven violent behaviour’.
In her report Eve quite correctly quoted the views of diverse sources such as Cr Woods, the police, the Liquor Accord (including owners of nightclubs and alcohol outlets), other councils and our mayor Jan Barham. Sadly missing out was the voice of the community.
I addressed Council on this issue during public access and would like to share some thoughts with other readers of Echonetdaily. But first let’s hear another community voice quoted from a recent letter to Echonetdaily by a concerned Myocum resident: ‘… Security cameras may capture the crime but they don’t save our young people from harm… to see young people queuing outside a venue with a large percentage already intoxicated…’
Are these venues allowing intoxicated persons and serving alcohol for a few extra bucks? Why are they still open after midnight? Let’s forget the security cameras – they won’t save our kids. Let’s get involved as a community.
Sixty-one words of reasons for her attempted motion were sufficient for Councillor Woods to support the installation of CCTV spy machines, to commit Council to acts of law enforcement and expenditure in excess of $200,000, to more or less exonerate members of Byron United from their liability in this whole sad affair and to qualify them as crime advisers. To top it all off, the councillor didn’t seem to have a problem with where the money was coming from despite council’s ‘belt-tightening budget’.
Some of my fundamental thoughts as expressed to councillors on this topic are:
– Council is not a law-enforcement agency; one of Council’s major roles is to ensure the harmonious sharing of space by the whole community, residents and businesses alike.
– CCTV cameras have one function and one function only: to assist in the identification of the culprits. Their installation will not prevent crimes or acts of violence; they will not reduce the severity or the number of acts of vandalism committed; they will merely assist police to identify, apprehend and bring to justice those committing punishable offences.
– Alcohol and late-night entertainment venues are the major contributors to the street problems.
– Entertainment venues and alcohol outlets are not only the major cause of our problems, they are also the major financial beneficiaries of the trade in alcohol.
– The relentless tourism promotion of Byron benefits businesses, much less the community, and there is a clear distinction between those two groups – one existing to make a profit, often at the expense of others, the others being ordinary residents who live here and have a right to enjoy peace and amenity in their own town and also to be consulted when decisions are made that impact on their lives.
– Earlier closing of venues, stricter control of the sale of alcohol and a better defined target audience for any promotional activities would go a long way towards solving our nightly problems without the need to resort to CCTV.
– Entertainment venues should have their rates increased substantially to pay for some of the costs involved with Council activities funded by all ratepayers, such as cleaning the streets, public toilets etc.
There is a need for more substantial community consultation in our shire, so let’s fight for more involvement now, before any commitments or decisions are made by council.