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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Byron councillors back in the hot seat

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Byron Shire Council chambers in Mullumbimby.

Paul Bibby

Their eco-friendly lunch boxes have been carefully packed, graphite-free pencils sharpened, and fair-trade thongs polished to a stunning shine.

It can mean only one thing – the holidays are over for Byron’s local councillors.

The first council meeting of the year will take place on Thursday, February 1 and it promises to be a fascinating affair for local political junkies.Here’s a taste of the policy goodness on offer.

Paid parking

Labor councillor Paul Spooner’s proposal that all parking revenue obtained in Byron Bay should be spent on projects for the town itself will be one of the first cabs off the rank.

Its fate will depend, of course, on the votes of the Greens councillors led by mayor Simon Richardson.

Interestingly, revenue obtained from parking fines and resident exemption fees will be free to roam the Shire under Cr Spooner’s motion.

Cavanbah plan

The council will need all the revenue it can get if it’s going to fund the proposed $10m redevelopment of the Cavanbah Centre revealed in this month’s agenda.

In a report to the council, outgoing general manager Ken Gainger notes that the Centre has recorded a cumulative operating deficit of $2.71m owing in large part to poor planning prior to construction.

Nevertheless, the GM notes that the cost-benefit of further capital investment is ‘quite positive’.

Mullum hospital

It seems Council staff also remain positive about the purchase of the old Mullumbimby hospital site, despite the ever-increasing cost of remediation works on the site and the risks posed by contamination.

This week’s meeting will be told that the cost estimate for the removal of asbestos at the site has climbed to $2.8m, well above the $2m previously estimated by NSW Health.

Staff have recommended that Council begin negotiations with the demolition contractor previously appointed by NSW Health forthwith, rather than putting the job out to tender, owing to the risks posed by the asbestos contamination if delayed and the costs of the tender process.

GM recruitment plans

As if that wasn’t enough to get our hearts racing, the council will also begin planning the recruitment of a new general manager.

Sadly, it seems those in the public gallery may be quietly ushered from the room when discussion of the relevant report takes place.

The reason for this exclusion was described in the agenda in the following tantalising example of council speak: ‘[Because the report contains] commercial information of a confidential nature that would, if disclosed,  prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied it’.

Ah, it’s great to have them back isn’t it?

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