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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Cashed up and dropping in

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We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

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Paul Spooner

Byron Bay

(Community Independents candidate)

The question should be asked: ‘Why do councillors continue to include price offered as a criterion for judging tender offers?’

Such an approach will only guarantee that current local operators will be outbid. We have seen it with kayak operators and now with surf schools. There will always be an incentive for outside operators who want to break in to the Byron Bay market to offer more to council under this system forcing out the local business operator. It also sets up a system of price competition where locals and tourists lose out through higher prices being charged to cover the increased costs of licences.

Council should not act like a private corporation set up to maximise profits and screw people. It is a local public authority that is legislated to provide adequate facilities and services to the community. Let’s get real about the current tender system and not review it, let’s fix it. The fact that council applies a ‘gag order’ on tenders only goes to demonstrate that they are scared of a faulty system being exposed by those who suffer from its decisions.

The solution is simple; if people want to provide a service in the shire and it requires council licensing, then charge a set price that is fair and reasonable.

For comparison,  the last time I went to renew my driver licence I didn’t have to competitively bid for it, I paid a set price. The criterion restricting the provision of licences is about my capability to drive safely and properly, not about the price I am willing to pay.

If we want to restrict competition in the provision of services in the shire then let’s determine it on criteria that reflect quality of operation and community benefit, not on who has the biggest wallet. A Byron Shire locals preference policy is clearly called for to inform these decisions.


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  1. Byron Shire should practice ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of local residents in relation to the issuing of licenses to operate a local business. Rather than a single set rate, it would be more advantageous to have two set rates: (1) local – administration cost based rate for Byron Shire resident business operator and (2) not local – double the price (or more) for non-resident of Byron Shire desirous of operating business in Byron Shire.

  2. Paul, you make some good points, but your drivers licence analogy doesn’t hold up. There is no limit to the number of drivers licences issued so there is no reason to ration them. But licences to use a community asset (the beach and ocean) for private commercial gain is a limited resource in much demand – hence the need for a tendering process to decide which applicant is offering the best deal to the community in return. And why shouldn’t Byron Shire residents get something back from those who use community facilities for private profit?

    As Jan Barham has pointed out, both the applicants in the recent surf school case are locals. So how should we decide who gets the guernsey? Mayoral candidate Simon Richardson seems to think that existing operators should be given the inside running to continue creaming profits from community assets indefinitely. But is this fair to local residents who’s Council is forever in catch-up mode in delivering essential services because it’s revenue base is completely inadequate to the needs of the Shire? The alternative seems to be some kind of croneyism. You’ll need to do way better than this Simon.


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