Byron Council is engaged in delicate negotiations with Byron Public School over the question of whether teachers should have to pay for parking in the streets around the school.
Since the introduction of paid parking in Byron, staff at the public school have been given free permits to park, with Council waiving the $110 fee that applies to workers who come from outside the Shire (or $55 for locals).
They were the only workers who were given this exemption, with Council stating that they deserved special treatment.
However, at the beginning of the school year, Council declined to provide the free permits, reportedly telling Byron Public it should ‘never have been given them in the first place’.
They were told to fill out interim parking-permit applications that required teachers to pay the same $110 fee as other workers.
The sudden change brought a hail of protest from teachers and parents at the school, some of whom lashed Council with a string of angry complaints.
One vexed community member wrote to The Echo arguing that ‘most of the teachers at that school already sacrifice considerable driving time and car costs, not being able to live near their work’.
‘What kind of a council does that?’ the writer asked, rhetorically.
The Echo understands that following the complaints mayor Simon Richardson intervened putting a temporary freeze on the plan to get rid of the exemption for teachers.
Staff are now negotiating with the school’s executive to try to figure out a solution that both parties can bear.
Neither the school nor the Parents and Citizens association was willing to put their heads above the parapet to comment when contacted by The Echo.
However, Council was not so reticent.
‘There is an expectation in the community that Council treats all people equally when it comes to pay parking,’ a Council spokesperson said.
‘Parking regulations apply to everyone.
‘Council, however, acknowledges the difficulties that arise when teachers are trying to comply with parking time limits and are supervising children.
‘Staff are working with the Byron Bay Public School to find a solution to these problems and no decision has been made. While this is happening, teachers and staff continue to use the free permits to park.’