Hans Lovejoy and Chris Dobney
Byron Greens mayoral candidate Simon Richardson has reported fellow mayoral candidate Diane Woods to the Electoral Commission following the appearance of unauthorised highway-style illuminated signage along Ewingsdale Road last week.
The signs read variously ‘Greenies give away our pool’, ‘Vote one Di Woods mayor’ and ‘Boot out greenies Sept 8th’.
The signs have since been removed but not before cables were cut, leading to further accusations regarding who might be responsible for the vandalism.
Cr Richardson told the Byron Shire Echo earlier this week, ‘Not only is the sign illegal under the Electoral Act [with] having no authorisation, but it contains a blatant untruth concerning the circumstances of the Byron pool, which contravenes the rules for the content of election signage (you cannot tell lies).
Cr Woods remarkably declined to respond to the allegations saying only that she was ‘not interested in argy bargy. Only interested in doing the job I am putting myself and team up for.’
Other groups, including the Greens, also claimed to have had their elections signs removed or defaced.
Apart from the issue of the signage itself, the allegation that the Greens have ‘lost’ Byron its pool resurfaced at Monday’s meet-the-candidates forum at the Byron Community Centre.
The pool, kiosk and adjacent car park sit on land covered by four different titles – some of them are on Crown land over which the state government has control. The state government has now said money earned by the kiosk (Fishheads) must be reinvested to maintain and upgrade Crown land and not into subsidising the pool
According to Cr Woods and deputy mayor Basil Cameron, the Greens ‘squandered an opportunity’ several years ago when they had the chance to do a title swap with land at Brunswick Heads that was subsequently compulsorily acquired by the state government.
Cr Woods claimed the pool would now cost council approximately $1.3 million dollars per year to keep open, given the income from Fishheads will now be quarantined.
But Greens Cr Richardson told the meeting, ‘there is simply no discussion about closing the pool. It’s a furphy and it’s an untrue one.’
He said a Greens council would look at input from the community into how best to fund the pool and would explore seeking federal and state grants for maintenance and operation.
General manager role
Further argument broke out over the appointment of the new general manager. Crs Woods, Cameron and Richardson all sit on the committee considering applications.
Cr Cameron accused Cr Richardson of lack of interest after he failed to attend a meeting of the committee.
‘Three councillors who are the mayoral candidates here are all on the selection panel, so it is a matter of credibility, but I think it’s very disappointing that when we came to finalise that selection process, only two of those candidates actually attended the meeting, even when all three candidates were given absolutely every opportunity to ensure that they could attend,’ Cr Cameron said in a barb clearly directed at Cr Richardson.
Cr Richardson responded, ‘there were two options of dates we were given. I do have a job and I made it quite clear that one of those dates I was working – teaching kids – and I could not attend at that time. I was able to attend on the other date but the other two candidates chose to hold the meeting at the time I could not attend.’
Cr Richardson has said he would give up his full-time job if elected mayor but anyone hoping a for a sign of rapprochement among the battling factions of Byron Shire Council is likely to be disappointed come Monday morning.