21 C
Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Public access to council vital

Latest News

Local youth among those hardest hit by housing affordability crisis

A 20 per cent spike in rents is driving an increase in youth homelessness across the North Coast, the organisers of a national campaign to end homelessness say.

Other News

Midwife quits

Deb Walsh, Fernleigh It’s become untenable for me to continue working in hospitals. I have quit. I will be deregistered soon...

Rise and shine!

Early morning starts are not a usual routine for chefs at the Ballina RSL Club. March was an exception when Chef Halie Welsh rallied some staff and friends together to take part in Ian Thorpe’s Laps For Life charity. A team of ten hit the Ballina Pool at 7am every day during March to raise funds For ReachOut’s Laps For Life challenge. 

Death for koalas

Maria Paola Torti, Italy I’m Maria Paola Torti. I live in Italy, and I’m very concerned with the NSW coalition government’s...

Interview with Dave Callan

Dave Callan is a big hairy Irish bloke. He’s funny. You would have seen him on Rove and heard him on Triple J – but now you get to see him dance! With backup dancers and a show full of spectacular choreography and a hairy Viking, catch A–Z of Dance at Byron Comedy Fest. Dave told us a little more…

Affordable myth

Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads There is a ‘myth of affordable housing’ in Byron Shire. Well may councillors lament the lack of ‘affordable...

Suffolk Park Pump Track

We the ‘Engaged Neighbours’, on behalf of the Suffolk Park pump track’s affected neighbours and 300–400 petitioners and letter writers, request Council NOT to continue to bulldoze the large fenced in section of Linda Vidler Parkland adjacent to Baz and Shaz’s shop, close to the houses on three sides.

Fast Buck$, Coorabell

Simon Richardson is back in the chair after his six month sabbatical, and within an hour of last week’s meeting commencing I was as angry as ever.

Now I fully understand that the public submissions often seem like whingers demonstrating nothing but their ignorance. On the other hand now and then the person making a submission puts forward a fact or a consideration that puts everything in a new perspective. Either way council has no right to make the public feel like cattle, the process is a central aspect of democracy and has to be endured even if nothing worthwhile emerges.

Generally Simon is better in his handling of public submissions than others. Basil Cameron not long ago cut me off with ‘times up’ in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a submission, so that I just stood their in disbelief. Simon wouldn’t do that. Jan Barham once arranged the speaking order so that the time ‘ran out’ before I got a chance to speak at all. Simon wouldn’t do that either.

Part of the problem is the way the process is structured. The adversarial system means that when booking your time you are asked to specify ‘for’ or ‘against’ which is not always appropriate when you may for instance agree with the staff recommendation but want to challenge some of the arguments put forward or outline some facts that were omitted.

Another non-fit emerged at last week’s meeting in relation to the strangely named ‘Mercato on Byron’. On the one hand the staff recommended certain minor changes but then argued strongly against exempting Mercato from paying rent for the veranda built over the footpath on Jonson Street.

Mercato faced the same difficulty as I did: given that there were two separate recommendations within the same report how can you decide whether you’re ‘for’ or ‘against’ if you have a different position on the two items?

Mercato‘s lawyer decided that he would nominate ‘for’, no doubt calculating that in that way he wouldn’t have to share his five minutes with anybody else. I also nominated ‘for’ on the basis that I was in favour of Mercato not being given an exemption. The lawyer finished his spiel and I got up only to have Simon interrupt me after two and a half minutes with ‘times up’ – even though I was speaking directly against the lawyer’s spiel ie I hadn’t realised I was sharing my time with my opponent.

Would it be too much to ask, too much of a concession to dignity, Simon, to request that when there are two or more independent speakers vying for the same time spot, the speakers are contacted and told? In this way we could trim our intended address to the time available and coordinate what we had to say. It is extremely annoying to arrive at the meeting to find you suddenly have to edit your stuff, particularly if the other speaker did not follow the rules and was granted the right to speak well after the nominated closing time of 12 midday the day before.

Also, Simon, what about allowing separate submissions to separate recommendations even if they occur within the same report? Too sensible?


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Fresh faces for Council elections

A very distinct, black flat-cap has just been thrown into the ring for the upcoming Byron Council elections, pegged for September 4.

Follow the buck$

JK Mckenna, Burringbar Give Fast Buck$ his own column in the paper. Let him speak. Let him be heard. Let’s also see some accountability from councils...

A bouquet for Lilac House

L Jenkins, Byron Bay Nicole Habrecht should receive free paint and brushes and a pat on the back from Council for maintaining her house in a...

Bruns boarding house showdown Thursday

The stage is set for a crucial debate over the Brunswick Heads ‘Corso’ development in Byron Council this week, with staff recommending that the developer’s revised plans be approved.