Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson says he wished he could have attended the kink-themed Cyberotika party that council staff cancelled last week.
The party promoters promised all-night music, live performances and onsite camping at the 24-hour party, which was to have taken place at the Paradise One resort at Coorabell.
But it fell foul of council staff, who last week sent police to tell the venue owner the event could not go ahead.
Mayor Richardson told Echonetdaily that while he hadn’t heard of the event prior to the staff decision to refuse it permission, it sounded ‘cool’.
And he assured the region’s queer community that the reasons for the cancellation had nothing to do with the party’s theme but rather was a result of complaints by nearby residents about its all-night nature.
In such circumstances, he said, council staff were ‘required by law to act’.
Much discussion took place on Facebook following the announcement of the event’s cancellation on Friday.
Byron Bay resident and sex educator Spiral Orbit said, ‘it’s disppointing that this rare queer-friendly and sex-positive event couldn’t go ahead considering the hetreronormative culture of the Byron Shire.’
Another longtime resident commented, ‘first the halls that hosted the early Tropical Fruits parties one by one closed because of one or two resident complaints. Now it seems that if you aren’t big enough, mainstream enough and cashed up enough to tick all of council’s compliance boxes, you’re no longer welcome in Byron Shire.’
Cr Richardson, who described the region’s queer community as ‘one of the most populous and vibrant outside of Sydney’ said he was ‘horrified to think’ that the action might have been taken because of the event’s focus or content.
Event organiser Kevin Riddell told Echonetdaily that the concept of Cyberotika was to ‘create a safe haven for freedom of erotic self-expression regardless of people’s orientation or background.’
‘When it comes to our wonderful region there is so much we can share together without using labels.
Mr Riddell said the event had also aimed to showcase a ‘diverse range of talented local performers.’
Byron Shire Council’s sustainable development manager, Wayne Bertram, said that the staff action was the result of a resident complaint.
‘A concerned shire resident informed council and the police about the upcoming ticketed event that included amplified music on two stages, food and camping,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘This was a 24 hour dance party that did not have council approval. The venue only had approval for a rural tourist facility with a restaurant that can seat a maximum of 72 people for lunch and dinner and closes at 10pm. That’s a considerable difference to a 24 hour dance party with hundreds of patrons,’ he added.
Mr Bertram said council staff ‘wrote to the property owner and advised them of their current development consent approval and of the penalties for an unapproved event.
‘Neither the organiser nor the property owner has applied for any approvals for the proposed event,’ he said.
He told Echonetdaily that events ‘cannot happen anywhere, anytime’, due to local planning regulations involving ‘safety, amenity, traffic, noise and environmental concerns.’
And he warned future event organisers to make contact with council prior to running an event.
‘Council would rather work with event organisers to enable safe events that have minimum impact on the community and encourage event promoters to seek guidance and approvals where necessary before booking acts or facilities
‘Organisers should contact council’s event officer at [email protected] to talk through the processes and the proposed site first. It can save time, energy and money,’ he said.