The Labor candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, has threatened Byron Shire Council with state intervention over the clothes-optional (CO) status of Tyagarah Beach following a meeting with local residents.
‘I have met with local residents and share their concerns that the beach is currently unsafe. Local families, women, children and the public are not, and do not feel, safe using Tyagarah Beach. The submissions of local police reinforces this position,’ said Mr Pugh.
‘The safety of the beach users at Tyagarah must come first. The beach has become unsafe for visitors and for local residents and so the clothing-optional area should be closed.’
While Mr Pugh recognises that decisions over CO beaches should remain with local councils he believes the state government also has a responsibility to ensure the safety of people using National Parks and Crown Land.
To drive the agenda of closing the CO beach Pugh says that under Labor the state government would ‘withdraw the consent of Crown Lands and the National Parks and Wildlife Service’ for the signs identifying the CO section of the beach as they are currently located on crown land ‘until such time as community safety is adequately addressed by Council’.
Local Greens state member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, has responded to Pugh’s comments saying that it is ‘disappointing that some politicians are calling for top down state intervention on a local community decision’.
‘I am very wary of calls for the state government to intervene in what is a local council issue and a community issue – let’s remember that this is how we got West Byron and how we get deemed refusals for unwanted developments getting decided by the state and not the community.
‘Byron has long been a place that supports alternative lifestyles and diverse communities and Tyagarah beach is loved by nude bathers both locally and by visitors.
‘The issue is the culture at the beach has shifted and has enabled opportunity crime. There is nothing inherent about a nude beach that enables crime but the combination of isolation, the Internet and increased tourism numbers has meant the culture has shifted and everyone wants to see that change.
‘If we want to have a larger conversation about do we want a nude beach in Byron Shire then let’s have it. The question with Tyagarah is how we change the culture.’