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Byron Shire
September 25, 2021

What happened at Byron Council last week?

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Were it any other town, the prospect of introducing some new timed parking spots would have barely caused a ripple at Byron Council.

But this was Brunswick Heads, where even whispering the P-word is likely to bring out the pitchforks.

And so it was at last week’s Council meeting, where councillors were given the task of choosing among five options for the allocation of timed parking.

Let’s be absolutely clear here: this was not about paid parking – that idea has been sent packing until March next year.

The key issues here included deeply vexed questions such as whether a visitor to one of the cafes on The Terrace would be able to park directly opposite their favourite latte joint for one hour or two.

Nevertheless, the issue brought multiple speeches during the morning’s public access session, and a debate among councillors of nearly two hours.

There was even a motion put forward that it was all too hard, and the matter should be put off for another month so everyone could ‘get their head around the issues’.

In the end, councillors voted by a narrow margin to adopt an option put forward by Council staff.

The full details can be viewed on Council’s website but, in brief, the option provides for a small ring of one-hour spaces in the centre of town, a wider ring of two-hour spaces around that, and the remainder made up of four-hour and all-day spaces.

While the parking debate was loud and vocal, the end of the Voluntary Visitor Fund attracted considerably less attention.

Put forward by Mayor Simon Richardson as a way of channelling some of Byron’s tourist dollars into local infrastructure, the fund was reliant on local tourist-based businesses asking their customers for an extra couple of dollars.

While Council’s own caravan parks were required to take part and duly collected around $21,000, participation was voluntary for the other businesses.

Cuckoo’s Nest speech

In the end, not one signed up to be part of the fund.

In a dramatic speech, Cr Richardson likened his attempt to get the fund off the ground to a scene from the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in which the character Randle McMurphy attempts, in vain, to single-handedly throw a bathroom cabinet through a window so he can escape to freedom.

‘At least I tried, damn it,’  Cr Richardson said, echoing the line from the famous character.

Unlike the bathroom cabinet, the VVF was summarily tossed out, marking the end of yet another attempt to recoup some of Byron’s tourist millions for the direct benefit of the local community.

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