A meeting was called Monday night at the Byron Services Club to discuss issues that are facing the community.
Some Byron Bay commmunity representatives met with local MP Tamara Smith, Mayor Simon Richardson and Councillors Sarah Ndiaye, Cate Coorey and Jeanette Martin to discuss their concerns over the Rec Ground plan of management (POM), the pool, the market relocation, Butler Street and the masterplan roll-out in general.
Masterplan leadership group members Donald Maughan and Helen Buckely (also from the swimming club) also attended.
Most of the meeting was spent with various members outlining their concerns that there has been a lack of consultation by councillors, staff interference in process and that it does not reflect the wishes of the community.
Market stallholder Ian Brown organised the meeting and said, ‘We are not against development, but we want our existing premises saved and improved. We are supporting each other and invite any community group to our next meeting.’
Sporting clubs and users of the Rec Ground have expressed concern over a recently released draft plan of management (PoM), which they say aims to split the adult and kids clubs and eventually move the clubs to the Cavanbah Centre. A family fun day on the ground in support of staying there is planned on Saturday December 9 from 10am till 12pm.
John McKay told the group that a previous Rec Ground PoM supported by the clubs was inexplicably shelved.
‘It was rigorous and comprehensively addressed by everyone who uses the ground. Every user group was interviewed. There was no consultation with the sporting groups with this current draft PoM,’ he said.
Staff have since replied to The Echo and say there was consultation which is reflected in the draft PoM.
Mr McKay said staff don’t return their calls and he was concerned that there is a push to commercialise the grounds, to which the mayor said there were ‘no longer talks about moving the adult clubs’ and there is ‘no impulse other than to improve the facilities’.
Separate from the meeting, Byron Bay SLSC president Paul Pattison told The Echo they have been seeking a 20-year lease on the grounds, ‘so we can plan and better manage the Byron Bay SLSC.’
‘This is a similar issue for Brunswick Heads SLSC. We also have concerns about the consultation by Council with our club related to the masterplan.
‘We support other community groups in their efforts to obtain a transparent and inclusive consultation with Council as we progress along a similar journey.’
Byron pool and Fishheads manager Ralph Mamone said, ‘Council, through the manipulation of the masterplan process, is not listening to the community, but rather is driving its own agenda and this was the main point of our meeting.’
‘Council’s [recent] attempt to relocate the War Memorial Swimming Pool to the Cavanbah Centre under the pretence that it was the community’s wishes via the masterplan consultation process is another example of how council is driving its own agenda. Council is doing this with the sports grounds, the markets relocation, the surf club refurbishment and the War Memorial Swimming Pool.’
The mayor replied that he is an active user of the pool and the plans to build another pool had been shelved.
Debate got heated between the mayor and Butler Street resident Paul Jones over the bypass and subsequent court cases. Mr Jones said, ‘Council attempted to secure their position by trying to destroy our organisation. The masterplan was rigged and voices were denied. We were not consulted on the bypass.’
Neighbour Dennise Simmons also said, ‘We were told by someone that we were going to have a bus terminal. There was no consultation with anyone. We are familiar with consultation, but this is not it. I think it could be a great green space. We have had to fight this in the past and will do so again.’
MLC Ben Franklin (Nationals) later confirmed with The Echo that he has written to the minister to ask whether it would be feasible to locate the transit hub to the Cavanbah Centre and is yet to hear back.
Greens MP Tamara Smith says she supports a six-month moratorium to the Byron Bay masterplan rollout. She told The Echo it is appropriate ‘given the extraordinary amount of anxiety, stress and anger’ over these radical changes’.
The mayor did not reply by deadline as to whether he agreed.