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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Inclusive democracy

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Jo Faith, Newtown

The slaughter of mature trees in Railway Park approximately ten months ago was a developer’s stance with three objectives. Use tyranny to reclaim the park for development, ‘get rid of the hippies’ and remove the Byron Environment Centre (BEC) rotunda.

This strategy was hasty and backfired creating community outrage. General manager Ken Gainger put his hand up claiming responsibility.

Ken claimed ‘there was confusion in Council’. Council employed consultants to investigate, costing ratepayers $21,000. The conclusion reached was ‘Yes there was confusion’. No more facts!

The legacy of this ‘confusion’ has resulted in ongoing attacks by some Council representatives on the BEC rotunda as to its fate in Railway Park, which still is to be addressed.

The BEC evolved over 30 years ago when the rights of nature and human rights formed a prevalent principled universal discourse that defined the aim of an enlightened inclusive egalitarian democratic society. BEC has a very strong constitution that addresses the rights of First Nation peoples and ratified legal principles that have maintained a successful green movement that upholds human rights.

Council’s recent draft plan of management for Railway Park reveals their desire to change the classification from ‘park’ to ‘general community use’. A neat crony strategy. The ‘general community use’ definition allows for commercial development in the park. Commercial development is not permissable in the ‘park’ classification. No doubt there will be more cafes and no rights for nature. Indeed, proposals exist for the old ticket office, near The Rails pub to be commercialised as a restaurant and bar.

Where to now ask rate-payers? Council was relatively happy with its trust being restored by the Community Solutions Panel. But democracy in Byron is being dollied up again with more weaszel words and neo-con social technologies. About to be birthed and implemented on the Byron ratepayers and community is ‘The Byron Model’ of ‘deliberative democracy’. NeoCon attempts and concepts to manipulate and transform inclusive democracy continue.

Furthermore, we learn that the Community Solutions panel idea will be rebranded as the ‘Co-design Group’.

It seems that Ken left his mould behind when he left Council. Who has picked it up?

Mark Arnold, the new general manager, has a hard job and appears reasonable and open to community concerns. We wish him luck!

Many folks prefer the old inclusive democratic model where all folks gather in a town hall or suitable space and really democratically speak. Let the park remain a very green park.

Come to the Byron Council Chambers on August 21, at 4pm and have your say!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Yes kick out the commercial money making interests of the stallholders from the Twilight Markets and the fund raising/selling of Sea Shepherd. I love having the commercial interest Twilight Markets in Railway Park and it keeps out shire Fit For The Future by giving a money stream from leases plus certainty for the stall holders .
    After living here for the last 54 years it is great seeing the park get a facelift and rejuvenation . From its days as a mosquito filled swamp causing dengue fever in 1924 it has been filled with at 1 metre of sand from the dunes near the old jetty . Thank god we had people who didn’t mind filling in the swamp, which by the way was most of Byron Bay , or we wouldn’t have Railway Park . Looking forward to moving forward instead of staying stagnant with an unwelcoming and sad park.

    • Geoff, I don’t think the twilight markets will save us from bankruptcy, especially given that Council seems to have waived their need to pay fees for the quieter parts of the year. The sorts of advantages that the businesses surrounding them would love. Apart from this it’s all a bit irrelevant. The Artisan markets are already with us and have a licence for some time with the existing categorisation. What’s the problem?

      I’m not convinced Council is entirely motivated by funds for Sea Shepherd or providing space for protest rallies.

      We also have no idea to whom, and under what arrangements any leases or licences will occur. Recent history doesn’t give me great cause for optimism.

      Also a distraction, is equating the upgrade – yes long overdue – with changing the categorisation. It’s a small park, not the botanical gardens, surrounded already by shops and food outlets – soon to have another big shopping complex nearby. I think there is enough commerce in this area already, that the
      businesses are paying dearly for. I’d like a tiny area free of it. Let’s see first if the upgrade and landscaping have the desired effect on utilisation before racing to open the gate for any future Council to cover it with shipping containers or the like.

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