Byron Shire Council has stuck to its guns on who should be responsible for any use of CCTV cameras to improve public street safety, urging the town’s liquor industry to get the ball rolling and seek funding for them.
And mayor Jan Barham has repeated calls for earlier closing times for the town’s 50-plus licensed venues as a way to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence that has put Byron Bay on the map as one of the worst areas in the state for such violence.
Councillors last week gave conditional or ‘in principle’ support for the use of cameras as part of its amended safer community compact, but only if used as a part of a wider range of crime-prevention initiatives.
They supported any business moves to come up with an operational plan for any CCTV project and for business to seek funding for them. They also encouraged them to complete an audit of current video security coverage and develop an overall plan for use of cameras.
The decision rebutted Council managers who wanted to include their previous recommendation to include CCTV as a crime-prevention measure in the safety compact.
Cr Barham voted against the motion because she wanted to ‘retain my opposition to this’.
‘The problem is obvious: we’re not putting enough controls on the alcohol industry and want to see these operators take take more responsibility,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘We need more than just magic silver-bullet thinking that CCTVs will make a difference; the operators should be responsible.
‘Lots of people have contacted me about this issue and feel the same way; they say it’s about our community, our town and our safety; this is home to many people who have the right to the respect from the people making a profit who, to be fair, should take more responsibility.’
Cr Barham said she was disturbed to hear, and was investigating, reports that ‘pub crawls’ were being promoted around the town by backpacker hostels and others and tickets for alcoholic drinks were being pre-sold on the street.
‘This is just another alarming element to the issue; the pub-crawl promotions or street ticket selling may not be legal,’ she said.
Byron Bay Liquor Accord (BBLA) welcomed the move.
Accord chair Elke van Haandel, the general manager of the Beach Hotel, said the accord and police ‘cannot fix the issues of the town’ and council support was needed on not just CCTV installation, but improved lighting in the CBD and a better transport hub.
The amended safety compact acknowledges the work of Byron Youth Service, Street Cruise and the Mobile Youth Outreach Service in addressing the safety problem.
It also notes the work done by youth service, Project U-Turn and Intra Youth Service, and suggests working in partnership with them on the issue.
It also recommends a similar approach to that of the Schoolies Safety Response Working Group and community volunteers in tackling youth crime and violence at major events or at peak tourist times.