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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Gainger’s legacy leaves ratepayers footing the bill

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October 2017 is eternally inscribed in my mind. With no public notification large trucks began rapidly removing potentially carcinogenic soil and fill from the old sand mining site in Jonson Street with dust flying everywhere. To date, Council has not responded to three letters requesting information and destination of the fill.

Without public notification the trees in Railway Park were slaughtered including a large mature Eucalptus Dunnii. This was justified by ex-General Manager of Byron Council Ken Gainger as necessary for improvements as part of the town’s masterplan project. To date, Ken, who admitted to personally ordering the action has faced no consequences. We could say ‘privilege protects privilege’.

To deflect from accountability Council employed Sydney based consultants SINC solutions who concluded ’there was a level of confusion‘.

Visual evidence was supplied by Byron Environment Centre (BEC) that showed very clearly two impressions of the proposed restaurant nearby the felled trees. The first was a simple image with trees intact. The second an image of an extended veranda for clients who wished to eat outside of the restaurant. The first image, was the image that was submitted to the Masterplan team, the second image appears to be the real DA proposal complete with the veranda. To have the veranda the trees would have to be felled. Was Ken pleasing the cronies?

It could be argued that the masterplan team are the scapegoats. However, they do not help their cause being somewhat undemocratic and not writing minutes.

More to the point the intention seems to rest in the arena of cronyism (tight knit relationships between developers and political representatives in power who ‘get things done’).

We are informed by a Green Council representative ‘The situation was unique… the GM was trying to get some things done before moving on’. Is this a credible statement? Or pure naivete?

This was also at a time when not only had the BEC been given an eviction order, a clean up plan had leaked that it was to ‘get rid of the hippies’.

Ratepayers are to pay $21,780 for Ken’s mistake. Should Ken not show atonement and pay back this money to the ratepayers? His dislike of the Butler Street community also cost the ratepayers significantly.


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