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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Surf schools welcome new policy

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Nathan Folkes is pleased his surf school’s licence can be renewed without going to tender.

Eve Jeffery

Ballina Shire Council have approved a plan to allow existing surf schools to renew their licences without going to tender.

In an unanimous vote last Thursday, councillors approved the plan for the public exhibition of draft amendments to the existing Commercial Activities on Public Land Policy.

The policy allows existing licence holders to renew licences without proceeding to tender, subject to satisfactory performance by the operator and approval by council.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader said she would like to see Ballina benefit directly from visitors from out of town surf schools and other activity providers.

‘I’d like to see them take people into the main street for 15 minutes’, she said.

‘We are not getting any payback for these people coming to Ballina. I’d like to see that put into the policy.’

Surf school operator Nathan Folkes said he felt that councillors sought to achieve a best practice balance between operators and the community.

However, he said more consultation with operators was required to ‘truly support the industry’.

‘On one hand, it looks like we are able to retain our licences and on the other, there are evident restrictions being sought on reducing the right to grow our businesses, or hand on our good will in future.’

Mr Folkes said his business Mojosurf has worked in the tourism and the surf school industry for over 15 years.  ‘We support fellow operators and only seek to ensure that we can continue to operate our businesses, to grow and that the industry is a stable one to plan into the future,’ he said.

Cr Cadwallader said she understood that council shouldn’t lose sight of the investment people put into their businesses.

‘We are not here to tell a business how to run a business.’

Mr Folkes said that it was supportive of council to decide to hand the licences back to current operators, but if growth in numbers was restricted by policy then business would be affected.

‘It’s a wise step in the right direction to encourage and support the businesses operating in the region,’ he said.

‘Council also has mechanisms to bring in new business if required or allow older operators to onsell their good will.

‘So long as we all operate in a professional manner and contribute to our communities there is no reason for the tender process.’



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