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February 25, 2021

Bruns parks ‘stolen’ from shire

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Sean O’Meara, Terrace Residents Group, Brunswick Heads

You know things are crook when an organisation has to appoint a PR firm to try and convince local residents it’s looking after their interests when in fact it is totally screwing them. The spin that North Coast Holiday Parks’ PR firm, Big Vision (or should that be Blurred Vision?) swilled out recently was appalling.

North Coast Holiday Parks (a NSW government organisation) is claiming they are filling our pockets with cash by bringing increasing numbers of tourists into Brunswick Heads businesses and ploughing all this money back into the local community. Wrong!

Five years ago, the then NSW Labor government (Obeid and mates) stole the Brunswick Heads Caravan Parks from Byron Shire Council and redirected the revenue that once went to our local infrastructure (libraries, childcare, roads etc) into NSW state revenue.

This was a theft of around $2 million a year from the local community. They then proceeded to expand these tourist resorts and steal prime, public foreshore parkland from local families who had used them for 80 years.

The local community and Byron Shire Council vigorously objected to these totally unlawful actions. They would not put up with the theft of a town’s best public land so it could become private resorts that would block locals from their parks, walking tracks and swimming spots.

Obviously outside the law, the NSW government (now Don Page and his mates) offered over $3 million for around 10 large parcels of riverside land (worth easily more like $20 million) so it could be rezoned and ‘privatised’.

Council steadfastly refused to sell this priceless community asset so it could remain for the use of all. The NSW government in response used their powers of compulsory acquisition and ‘acquired’ this land from the local community and we got zippo.

It is very grubby indeed for North Coast Holiday Parks to claim they are such a financial godsend for us all when they have in fact deprived the local community of millions of dollars in revenue, continue to steal our best riverside parkland and use a model of operation that is all about fleecing the local residents and business community rather than being a benefit to them.

A few months back North Coast Holiday Parks closed off a public road to one of Brunswick’s two public boat ramps and claimed it as their own.

They are now advertising Ferry Reserve as the ‘North Coast’s only caravan park with its own private boat ramp’!

Fed up, a group of local residents removed the portable road block and deposited it at council’s front door. Some of this group have since been charged with offences including ‘disposal of stolen goods’ and are soon to face court. This is a ridiculous charge against a group of ordinary local residents (most over 50) but obviously someone is desperate to stop any displays of public outrage against NCHP.

Surely, one must question whether the accuser in this situation should in fact be the accused, and who is actually stealing from whom?

Brunswick (and shire) residents have been robbed of millions of dollars in revenue and are progressively being fenced off from their best public parks and river access.

They now find themselves before the courts charged with theft after their public assets have been stolen from them.

The ‘strong growth’ that North Coast Holiday Parks is spruiking in its press release is substantially due to illegal operations and overcrowding.

A recent report commissioned by Byron Shire Council showed over 100 compliance breaches by North Coast Holiday Parks including around a third of their sites not meeting adequate size requirements as well as illegal encroachments onto the riverbank with around 40 sites. ??Last Christmas over 10 caravans had waste hoses running directly into the river pumping detergents and who knows whatever else into our river. A further four were pumping their waste into the grounds of the CWA hall.

NCHP has a sorry safety record too, including some cabins being exposed to broken asbestos sheeting, others in clear danger of collapsing into the river and their destruction of the environmentally sensitive riverbank, which are all clear breaches of government regulations that would probably see you and I locked up if we did the same.

They are however a government organisation, so it is clear there is one set of rules for them and another for the rest of us.

So Blurred Vision, I hope you are getting well paid in NSW taxpayers’ money to make North Coast Holiday Parks look like a law-abiding and beneficial group to the Brunswick Heads community, it’s going to be one hell of a job.

This organisation should be run out of town and the management of the Brunswick Heads caravan parks given back to Byron Shire Council. All the PR spin in the world won’t help this mob, a hypnotist is possibly your only hope.

 


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