Ben Nowland, Mullumbimby
Dear Highly Paid Manager of Byron Shire and Well-Cushioned Councillors of the Same:
We’ve represented the voice of the shire declaring our communities CSG free. Splendour is over. Can we now focus on basic essential Council matters including infrastructure restoration? Through turning a blind eye to massively dangerous potholes (‘deathtraps’ – long-term locals call the road conditions ‘the worst they have ever been’).
1. Council is contributing to the destruction of relationships. Friends don’t visit families up the back of Mullumbimby anymore because the roads are so bad that either their cars are trashed or a 15-minute drive takes an hour at a sluggish 10km/h.
2. We are being cornered into buying 4WD vehicles in order to get home. Seriously. Green Shire? Get off the hallucinogens.
3. People are dying. Have you not had a moment of cognitive dissonance when you encounter a metre-deep pothole on your side of the road but there is a car coming the other way. Either option and you are buggered.
4. You are not upholding a pre-election promise to ‘fix the potholes’.
5. Ratepayers (which indirectly includes renters of course – so everyone who lives here) are getting smashed to bits with vehicle repair costs.
‘Oh we don’t have any money.’ Residents elect Council to do what it takes, not lounge around waiting for the money to fall from the sky. ‘Do what it takes’ could mean petitioning the state. Get feisty, guys.
In early December 2012 I proposed (emails and DVD to Council) a user-pays parking system to bring in money. Using very available smart card/smart reader technology tourists contribute to an infrastructure fund $10 per vehicle per day for parking in Byron Shire. Regular tourists can opt for a $150 annual pass. Ten bucks is nothing for a city dweller who is well used to paying $40 a day. Some visitor friends agreed that of course the tourist needs to contribute to the upkeep. User pays. Byron business community gave it the thumbs up at the Australia Day pow-wow. Here we are eight months later. What are we waiting for?
It is obvious Council needs help so I offered my services (free) to get this thing implemented. No response. That is a way to nurture pro-activity, ain’t it.
Then I thought at least can we manage the accountability aspect. In January I proposed a website potholenation.com.au that via Google maps would enable residents to input and track potholes and road repairs. Great for the community. Great for keeping Council accountable. Great for improving works efficiency. Even with five follow-up emails and phone calls I didn’t hear back from Council Works division until mid-April. That is a way to nurture innovation, ain’t it.
This is a call to Byron Shire residents to extensively call and email Council until they can no longer turn a blind eye and reply ‘Oh we don’t have any money’.