There’s a new group of locals putting themselves forward for the upcoming Council elections, to be held September 4.
Bruce Clarke leads the Byron Shire Action Group, who describe themselves as a ‘diverse team of progressive independents’, that, if elected, will ‘provide bold, clear and highly experienced leadership to ensure a better future for all residents’.
Mayoral candidate, Bruce Clarke, is a lawyer, local government specialist and environmental strategist with high-level management expertise.
He and his diverse team are focused on providing actionable solutions to the current and future challenges faced by the Shire.
Bruce is joined by journalist/diplomat/communications specialist, Julie Meldrum, cafe owner and Brunswick Chamber of Commerce committee member, Gary Deller, and Ocean Shores resident and Byron Bay small business owner, Janine Khosid.
Bruce says, ‘As a team of strong, like-minded independents, we believe in putting the people of Byron Shire ahead of allegiance to any political party’.
‘We know that with better governance, a focus on the real issues faced by the community, and smart leadership, we will see Byron Shire maintain its heritage, character and values while adapting to future demands. Everyone deserves better from local government’.
The major issues that compelled the group to stand for elections include renewable and resilient infrastructure, long-term and secure accommodation, cross-Shire public transport, genuine community consultation, balance tourism with liveability, careers for youth – not just jobs – and increasing the available support for our arts community.
Julie said that the need for stronger working relationships with federal and state governments will assist Byron Shire in meeting the increasing costs to ratepayers associated with massive tourism.
She says, ‘We need to alleviate the financial burden of being the second most popular holiday destination in Australia by supporting appropriate infrastructure, as well as the residents, who play a pivotal role in making our Shire so attractive’.
Meanwhile, Gary says, ‘Bureaucratic red tape, underscored by slow decision making, has led to grief for many small businesses across the Shire’.
‘With a more collaborative and solutions-based approach, ratepayers, business owners and Council can work together to attain sensible, faster, and more seamless outcomes through rigorous policies and processes’.
Janine said her frequent interactions with Byron Shire residents had shown a shared view that they have been feeling neglected and would love to be supported more by local government.
‘I live in Ocean Shores, adjacent to Billinudgel, The Pocket and Mullumbimby, which makes up a significant area of the Byron Shire.
‘This raises the question – why do we always seem to be the last on the list when it comes to rectifying our drainage issues, much needed road maintenance, and our lack of public transport within this area?’
In the lead up to the September 4 Council election, the team say specifics about key action items and policy papers will be released ‘that will act as a blueprint for a reinvigorated and reunited Byron Shire’.
Bruce and the Byron Shire Action Group will be holding a series of ‘meet the candidates’ events throughout the Shire, with the first being held from 4pm–6pm this Saturday, July 3 at Happy Dolphin Cafe in Brunswick Heads. Everyone is welcome, pending COVID-19 restrictions. For more info, visit www.byronshireactiongroup.org.