Sol Ibrahim, Byron Shire councillor
My in-laws visited us at Suffolk Park with my partner’s 90-year-old grandmother. They rented a house to be near their new grandson, as well as having the comfort of separate rooms and bathrooms. Two of my close friends are self-employed and raising the next generation of Byronians. They rent their home out during peak times to cover the lean times in winter. These are just two examples of holiday letting which do no harm, and bring real benefits to our community.
The vast majority of residents in Byron came here initially to holiday, and then stayed, as I did 30 years ago. Like it or not, Byron is a holiday destination. Removing all 600+ holiday lets would harm our economy, put locals out of work, and close the very businesses we locals love to use. Maybe for the retired or pensioned this wouldn’t matter too much, but for the rest of the community, especially young people, tourism and all the associated support services are the only jobs available.
Let’s also not forget that holiday letting in other areas, such as Brunswick Heads, is not the problem it is in some parts of Byron Bay. Making blanket rules would be unfair in some places.
The Gosford decision resulted in that council making holiday letting legal, as other councils had already done. The court decision is not simply a law applying to every NSW council. It also directs councils to deal with the issue, one way or another.
No-one wants to live next to a party night after night. This has to be stopped. But simply closing down all venues is not the answer. I do not want large hotels replacing holiday houses, which ironically are part of what makes Byron Shire different from the Gold Coast.
This is why Rose and other councillors are looking for solutions that reflect the complexity and divergent needs of the community. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems when tough decisions have to be made, for all.