Cr Richarson told Echonetdaily, council was already in negotiations with the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) ‘well before the shark attack happened’, adding the timing was ‘coincidental’.
‘We had identified our coverage was inadequate,’ he said. ‘We’re a small shire with a lot of beaches and some areas get scarce attention.
‘But we’re looking to extend patrols at Main Beach, because it is a busy beach, to 12 months of the year. So many people who get into trouble are overseas people who don’t have much of a sense of surf safety.
Cr Richardson said that while council’s immediate reaction was to outsource the work to the ALS, it was also in talks with Bondi Lifesavers ‘to help professionalise our Byron Surf Life Saving Club further. We would like to get a year-round service and generate more income for Byron SLSC so they don’t have to have meat raffles to buy more equipment.’
ALS NSW coordinator Brent Manieri said they had put forward a proposal to Byron Shire Council in August to increase patrols to 12 months based on overwhelming beach statistics that showed large beach attendance figures for the entire 12 months of the year.
‘Last year more than 840,000 people visited patrolled beaches in the Byron Shire and we are expecting another big year this year,’ said Mr Manieri.
‘Along with increasing the service at Main Beach, council have been very proactive in the area of improving safety for all beachgoers by extending services at some of the Shire’s other beaches as well and we look forward to continuing the positive relationship we’ve built with council.’