Gregory Davies, Byron Bay
Environmental achievements and plans promoted by Mayor Richardson would be commendable for a privately funded entrepreneur but not for a local council so destitute that they cannot afford to maintain safe roads or even hygienic public toilets.
While travellers of all modes are too often injured or killed, vehicles damaged, and a resident held housebound during the rain, Council’s diversion of tens of millions of ratepayer dollars to unbudgeted electricity-generation projects is not boastworthy. New additional expenditure includes a six-figure solar panel cover for Council’s carpark, a bioenergy plant, and a 5MW solar farm that will, on its own, offset Council’s total power usage and sell excess to the grid.
Millions more are diverted to upgrading fish migration along 27km of the Brunswick River. That and renewable electricity are desirable environmental outcomes. But none of it rated a mention in any public opinion poll about Council’s priorities. The $58m infrastructure backlog crisis that was Council’s only grounds for rate rises at four times CPI for three years compounded appears to have been set aside for the mayor to build a green appearance.
I wish the mayor had followed his own advice and been wiling to compromise to avoid conflict concerning the Byron bypass project. Not one millimetre conceded since 2014, despite better proposals including mine and despite at least two initiatives from state governments in 2017 to use the whole 50 – 100m corridor along the route.