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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Byron councillor dismisses residents’ concerns over bypass

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Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter.
Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter.

A councillor who is in favour of the Byron bypass along Butler Street has lectured affected residents on their opposition to the proposal, telling them, ‘We have to do more than just complain about change’.

In an email exchange to Bill and Cane Mitchell’s letter of objection on April 17, Cr Alan Hunter (Nationals) said, ‘You have demonstrated just how difficult it is for some to cope with change… Change is inevitable and you can’t stop it just by complaining’.

The extraordinary response was regarding concerns raised by the residents, which included economic implications, loss of property value and compensation.

The Mitchells, who are members of the Butler Street Community Network, wrote to council and said, ‘This project is completely out of character with the identified heritage precinct and local heritage items.’

‘In addition, it will cause the fragmentation and destruction of local wetlands including disruption to natural water flows. We call on Byron Shire Council not to act out of expedience alone but to be open to better, longer-term transport solutions… the rail corridor route alternative being one (as backed by the 2001 EIS).’

Emotional locals

As to their concerns, the Nationals member told them their opposition, ‘demonstrates the inordinate level of emotion.’

‘Some people embrace change and meet it on the front foot while others fall victim to it. We each have to decide if we are contributing to the problem or the solution. At some point we have to do more than just complain about change.

‘At no time until now has Byron community had worse roads, greater traffic problems, less affordable housing, more social issues, less money in the bank, more unemployment, been at more risk of local government amalgamation, and the list goes on.

‘In practical terms, the bypass can’t be built on the rail land. Firstly, because the community have told us they want the opportunity to have the train back one day.

‘To do that the land will have to remain owned by NSW Rail and if the decision is made to reinstate a train of any sort we will be required to remove our $6–10 million road in a matter of months, something we are not prepared to risk.

‘The rail authority have declared there is insufficient room for both trains and a road. They are the owners of the land and have the call on that.

‘Secondly, the community have told us they have had it with the delays getting into Byron along Shirley Street.

‘Council and the state government agree, and we are progressing as best we can in conjunction with submissions from the public.’

Fundamentally flawed: residents

Mr Mitchell replied, ‘having taken the time to provide the feedback that council have asked for, we are then attacked in a personally insulting manner because you don’t agree with our comments and suggestions.

‘It is further evidence of council’s “ram it home” [agenda]; expedience at all costs approach, ie it’s better to be doing something than nothing, even if that something is fundamentally flawed.’

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