Valerie Hardy, Brunswick Heads
On 27 August Byron Shire Council will vote to override its 25 June unanimous vote to delay the debate on paid parking in Brunswick Heads until August 2021. The robust debate of 25 June centred around the effects of COVID-19 on businesses, the economy of Bruns and the consequential effects on the livelihoods of locals. As well as what locals want.
The Echonetdaily article,16 July 2020 ‘Councils suffer up to $6m loss in revenue’ stated that ‘councils have lost significant revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as it hit local communities with the closure of businesses and loss of jobs.’ Apparently, Byron Shire (Council) has lost an estimated $1.353m. It is also reported that ‘Byron Shire have also had to push back a number of projects’.
We can acknowledge that the Byron Shire Council is a business. They appear to be hurting, as are the majority of businesses in the Shire. Certainly, the majority of businesses in Bruns are hurting, and unsure of the future. I understand that BSC received $25m from the government to fix and maintain infrastructure under pressure from the level of tourist activity in the region.
When trying to justify the need for paid parking in Bruns, Council is using the argument that tourists should pay to visit us. As an aside, are day-trippers – people from Lismore, Ballina, Murwillumbah and environs – considered to be tourists? I thought they were our long time neighbours?
There are a number of SE Queenslanders who could be considered to be day-trippers. However, does Council actually know the number of tourists versus day-trippers over any given time? Research shows that day-trippers are loath to pay to park.
Regardless, now that Council has $25m to fix the problems caused by tourists, they should leave paid parking in Bruns off the table until we know what the future holds for businesses and locals alike. This would be fair and just. It would show fair leadership.
This week Julia Gillard has been talking about leadership. On ABC RN’s Life Matters, Ms Gillard talked about the pandemic and leadership: ‘…when people are scared and don’t know what the future is going to hold… warmth and inclusion count for a lot.’
Food for thought, councillors?