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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Kool-Aid conspiracy

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Paul Jones, Butler Street Community Network

Further to the Paul Spooner Kool-Aid conspiracy (letters December 24, 2019), I don’t think the said cordial can be so easily dismissed as untainted, as he might suggest.

Paul himself did make an effort to overcome the brainwash put out by Council staff, most notably the former GM Ken Gainger, with a letter from the state government inviting a bypass proposal within the rail corridor. But Ken did a huge song and dance over the state invitation, with a barrage of claims including loss of funding if Council wavered. Staff led by Ken claimed an Act of Parliament would be required, more vegetation would need to be removed, the rail land was contaminated, the costs of a Crown Land transfer would be millions of dollars, noise mitigations would be so much harder, heritage impacts in the corridor would far outweigh heritage impacts on Butler Street etc.

Under this pressure and the continued capitulation of our Greens councillors the majority rejected the rail corridor bypass option. Paul, then like Albo on Adani, moved from principle to expedience to ensure a bypass.

Clarifying this, the state government had previously, in 2001, approved in principle a bypass road within the rail corridor. In 2014 the NSW state government undertook an extensive engineering investigation of the rail corridor, and stated the corridor was wide enough to accommodate road, rail and rail trail. Again in 2017 they provided a letter inviting our Council to propose a road in the rail corridor.

The uncomplicated fact is that the Butler Street bypass is wholly the creation of Byron Shire Council, there was no bar on the use of the rail corridor land for a bypass road.

So to avoid the obvious and best route for the bypass the Byron Council had to really crank up the kool-aid. So much so that they even claimed that there were no Mitchell’s Rainforest Snails in the path of the proposed bypass and therefore they did not have to go to the Commonwealth for approval to destroy mapped red-flagged habitat of the critically endangered mollusc.

We wonder where Paul is going with his newfound belief in the ‘whateva’ bypass, the lack of even practical principle can have dreadful results. Look no further than the Mercato entry debacle, this is bad planning that speaks of arrogance and ignorance, and insults community and users.

The Butler Street heritage streetscape, community and residential amenity is now all but destroyed, the rail corridor is slated for a major bus transport interchange, the Butler Street crown reserve will become a carpark, the country is on fire – pass me the Kool-Aid please.

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  1. Yes Paul such planning short sightedness created that congestion at Mercato. If only there were a 2nd exit/entry to alleviate that traffic……I know, how about an opening onto the new Butler St Richardson Memorial Ring Road? More Cruel-Aid for the masses. I think we got away with it – they didn’t see that coming did they?


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