A rift has emerged within the Byron Greens, with the local convenor telling the Last Drinks at 12 public meeting on Wednesday night that mayor Simon Richardson was ‘trying to be all things to all people’ rather than stick to Greens policy on the issue.
‘I think that puts him in a difficult situation if he’s going to be a Greens member,’ said Tom Tabart, who is himself a former Byron Shire Greens councillor.
Mr Tabart has repeated his criticisms of Mayor Richardson’s performance to Echonetdaily but denied he was putting out an ultimatum.
In October, Mr Tabart wrote a strongly worded letter to the Echo, throwing the party’s weight behind the Last Drinks at 12 campaign.
Yesterday he told Echonetdaily, ‘Byron Greens group stands by its original letter of support for Last Drinks at 12’.
‘Simon sort of supports it but thinks it could be “Last Drinks Somewhat Later”.
‘He thinks the concerns of the liquor industry need to get some consideration.
‘My view and the view of the Greens is that it’s a violence issue and that’s what needs consideration – and not to give a leg up to an industry that is powerful enough, thank you.’
The mayor is not the only councillor appearing to back away from the demands of the Last Drinks group.
Cr Paul Spooner, who earlier this year authored a council motion supporting the group, told the meeting on Wednesday night that he was ‘disturbed’ by the direction the group was taking.
ABC radio reported him as saying the group’s ‘hardline approach’ would ‘divide the community’.
But the rift in the Greens appears to run deeper than the single issue, with Mr Tabart calling the mayor’s plan for New Years Eve a recipe for disaster.
‘[Former mayor] Jan [Barham] with help from me and a number of other people managed to get New Years Eve in Byron Bay to a situation of no threat and a family-friendly evening.
‘Simon has always been of the opinion that we needed to have more people and more commercial activity.
‘This New Years Eve, with Falls Festival – which I think is going to logistically be a nightmare – is going to be a repeat of last year, where the floodgates will remain open.’
Mr Tabart said the mayor, who rarely consults him, could do with re-examining the Greens position on a range of issues.
‘My general view of his activity as mayor is that he’s being a little too conciliatory as a member of the Greens in his actions across the shire. I think he should be sticking to Greens principles more closely.’