Late last year Byron Shire Council resolved to adopt the Community Charter for Good Planning. Since then the concepts of ‘community’ and ‘good planning’ seem to have eluded the pro-overdevelopment councillors.
The wellbeing of the few – those who seek only to benefit themselves – is being put ahead of the whole community with the councillors’ support for the Belongil rock wall, West Byron megasuburb and the Ewingsdale so-called ‘seniors’ lifestyle development. We have seen the same pro-rock-wall councillors actively work to exclude the community from major decisions – the engineering of our beaches with rocks and sand pumping – using backdoor methods to avoid community scrutiny.
They are even working to reclassify community land at Belongil so they can sell it; we are to pay for the rock walls that will protect the land and then the councillors, encouraged by an enthusiastic in-house real estate agent, plan to sell it, at a profit, into private hands. They have been saying that it is community land they are ‘protecting’ but they have already started the process with the Department of Planning to reclassify that community land.
Even the Office of Environment and Heritage believes Byron Council is acting irresponsibly with the rock wall and is withholding funds as a result. We have seen the five councillors bypass proper tendering processes to engage the services of a rock wall contractor.
This council, with its illegitimately gained majority, will be remembered for the contempt in which they hold the community and as the destroyers of Byron Bay. So far they have sabotaged the protection of our beloved koalas by scuttling the Koala Plan of Management and given us a shopping mall, a megasuburb to rival western Sydney, a useless bypass and sand pumping – what a legacy.
Cate Coorey, Byron Residents’ Group