Superb letter last week from Matt Hartley detailing the abuses perpetrated on the community by illegal holiday letting. To Matt’s list I would add one. The perpetrators are deliberately rorting the rates system to their illegitimate financial advantage at the expense of the rest of the community. They pay residential rates on high-intensity commercial activities for which much higher rates are normally and rightly charged – many more vehicles hammering our wretched roads to holes and competing for parking spaces, more sewage and so on. They are feeding like parasites on ordinary ratepayers. I wonder how many are also trading cash-in-hand and dodging income and land tax.
Council has been knowingly negligent in failing to stamp the practice out. It has allowed it to fester to the point where the sheer numerical and financial power of the cheats has bought them a place at the negotiating table to which they are not entitled. Eddie Obeid syndrome. Jan Barham also made good points in her letter and it would be enlightening to read why, under her mayoralty, when the Greens were at high tide on Council, nothing was done.
There is a legal process available which could compel Council to perform statutory duties when it has failed to do so – such as enforcing zonings. An application could be made to a court for a ‘Writ of Mandamus’. If successful, Council would be ordered to shut the illegal holiday letters down. A civic-minded lawyer could help here with advice. Meantime, the sorry wreck Byron has become well illustrates the remark made by the poet Byron (after whom the town was not named) that ‘civilisation is a thin veneer readily dissolved in alcohol’.
Adrian Gattenhof, Mullumbimby