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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Majority of Lennox businesses support WSL

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The majority of the Lennox Chamber of Commerce businesses voted in favour of the WSL event.

The majority of businesses in Lennox Head have responded ‘yes’ to the Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce survey asking if they were ‘in favour’ of the World Surfing League (WSL) being held at Lennox.

In all 40 local businesses completed the survey’s three questions with 70 per cent ‘in favour’ of the event at this point and 85 per cent in favour of the WSL being held at Lennox if it was ‘post-pandemic’ and ‘not held during the holidays’. This was despite the fact that only 65 per cent of businesses said that they would benefit from the event itself.

The majority of the Lennox Chamber of Commerce businesses voted in favour of the WSL event.

Community concern

However, according to local Ballina councillors Jeff Johnson and Keith Williams, who both have businesses in the area, the broader community had serious concerns over the event going ahead at this time.

‘As a Councillor, it was also clear that the broader community had major concerns with crowds, congestion, and COVID risks during an already busy period,’ Cr Williams told The Echo.

The majority of the Lennox Chamber of Commerce businesses voted in favour of the WSL event.

‘I’m not against Lennox Hosting surf competitions and am a big supporter of the annual Skullcandy Gromfest which is a feature event on our calendar,’ said Cr Johnson.

‘But when you have representatives from the Lennox Surfing Reserve, Landcare, the residents association, board riders groups, and council staff expressing reservations then you have to listen to those concerns and weigh them up with the economic benefit argument.’

Council rejection of WSL

Cr Williams said that he spoke with the Lennox Chamber of Commerce prior to the Ballina Council meeting where he voted to reject the WSL being held at Lennox.

‘It is clear that the views expressed by the Chamber in support of the event at that time were broadly supported by local businesses,’ he said.

‘As a local cafe owner and operator I was acutely aware of the potential positive impacts of the WSL event for business. I have subsequently spoken with local business operators to explain my support for the decision of Council to reject the event. Put simply, the event was rushed, poorly planned, and could have become an absolute balls-up if large unregulated crowds had showed up.’

Brazilian, Italo Ferreira, took out the World Surfing League’s first leg of the world championship competition in 2019. Unsually held at Snapper Rocks the comp was moved around the corner to NSW’s most northerly break at Duranbah. Photo Jeff ‘Retired Gold Coast Pro’ Dawson

COVID risks

This was reiterated by Cr Johnson who highlighted how fortunate the region is to not have had a case here in ‘over six months’.

‘We can’t let our guard down now, particularly with the reporting of new strains of the virus that are even more contagious. We have seen what is happening as we speak in Melbourne due to them hosting an international sporting event,’ he told The Echo.

‘The key issues for me in moving the motion to reject the proposal were that: 1) due process wasn’t being followed. Councillors were being asked to approval a major event with no actual application during the busy Easter holiday period. 2) The downside risks due to COVID were high. Any short-term economic boost could have quite easily been reversed if any of the competitors or support staff unknowingly had COVID-19.

‘In this case, I couldn’t support the proposal with the information we had. I also remember the community concerns and opposition when Rip Curl Search wanted to hold an event in Lennox about 10 years ago.’

Cr Williams said that he was strongly in support of events ‘as a way of increasing business during quiet periods. But sadly that was not the case in this instance.

‘I think the Deputy Premiers description of Lennox as a bunch of NIMBY’s is seen as a badge of pride by many locals. I’m proud to represent a community that will stand up, mobilise and demand that politicians listen.’


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3 COMMENTS

  1. 100 percent of residents were not polled!

    What is the point of this article after the horse had bolted?

    Locals are the ones left to pick up the garbage. Might be an idea to consult the residents, most of whom have little financial interest and will give unbiased answers. WSL is now run by ex Wall St big wigs and Zuckerberg via his rights to broadcast events on FB. Push push, and don’t ask questions now or later, just PU$H it through.

    Most locals aren’t against progress, we just want proper consultation.

  2. It would also be revealing to see, of the businesses who voted to HAVE the event in Lennox Head, how many actually lived in Lennox – Not Byron, not Mullum, not Ballina – whose actual home address was a street address in Lennox.

  3. Of course businesses are in favor, be a bit of a shock if they weren’t. Hmmm wonder why ? As stated above I bet many owners do not live in Lennox, Businesses get the upside in terms of increased income, locals get to suffer the down side of, disruption, increased traffic, garbage etc, etc.

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