Gerry Rihs, president, Rotary Club of Byron Bay
The Rotary Club of Byron Bay has noted with great interest the proposed Community Future Forum, to be held on Saturday, January 26, and all our members have voted unanimously for our community concerns to be passed on to you and the public generally.
Much has been said about the many issues facing our town and we have no doubt that the ‘robust conversation’ you refer to will indeed be of the robust kind. But will it be informed? Similar forums in the last few years, all centred on shire issues of one kind or the other have, more often that not, attracted very polarised opinions as opposed to passionately expressed informed and intelligent solutions to very complex problems.
Few more complex than our shire population, transient or not, which includes over-indulging in alcohol, the rights of our retailers to do reasonable business, the rights of all to reasonably enjoy whatever they wish to celebrate and, above all, the rights of all the public to always enjoy their peace and amenity in a place which used to be referred to as ‘Paradise’.
Clearly, ‘Paradise’ is lost. This forum will attempt to debate intelligently the many and often conflicting interests of all stakeholders. As the panel members consider all these issues, we request that all do this with the following fundamental questions in front of their mind and with their hand on their heart:
Would the reduction in trading hours benefit the public at large? Would the installation of CCTV cameras assist the authorities in prosecuting offenders? How do the authorities reconcile the ‘tourist town’ with the actual or latent violence late at night? Who takes responsibility for denying the rights of the public to enjoy their peace and amenity?
Our members will be at the forum and we look forward to this panel of distinguished and responsible local persons to address these issues with the clarity and intelligence the public deserves.
We congratulate the Byron Shire Echo/Echonetdaily in promoting this initiative.