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Byron Shire
October 22, 2021

Frustration over library closures as other businesses face opening dilemma

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Regional Tweed Libraries are only open for Click and Collect. Photo Aslan Shand

Tweed Councillor James Owen.

Tweed Shire Councillor James Owen (Liberal) has expressed frustration over the closure of the Richmond Tweed Regional Library (RTRL) network to the public until 1 December, particularly those in Murwillumbah, Tweed and Kingscliff. Similarly other businesses in the region are facing the same question of if opening up is worth the risks.

The RTL service has closed its doors and is currently providing Click and Collect throughout the region.

‘People are furious that our libraries have been closed due to a decision by Lismore City Council and I have been inundated with calls and emails from people who are not happy about it. People are saying to me that our community has been through enough COVID hardship already and when we are supposed to be on a roadmap to recovery, why are they imposing more on us now! Tweed’s libraries are managed by the Lismore City Council as part of the Richmond Tweed Regional Libraries (RTRL) agreement.

‘Library Management in Lismore made this decision and my fellow councillors and I were not consulted about the closures – I found out about them via a media release! “A decision of this magnitude should be run past the elected body – if I had been asked I would have said that we need to find a way to keep them open.’

Regional Tweed Libraries are only open for Click and Collect. Photo Aslan Shand

Threats to staff

Responding to the accusations a spokesperson for the RTL told The Echo that, ‘The decision to offer a Click and Collect service across the RTRL network was made to protect the safety of the community and our library staff.

‘It is a difficult balancing act to wanting to offer as many services to our communities that we can, while protecting the health and well-being of our staff.

‘Already, many library staff have been verbally and physically threatened and have been told they “have blood on their hands”. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable by any standards,’ they said.

Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry. Photo supplied

Some services for double vaxxed

Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) said that the Tweed Shire Council has offered to help with the costs of security guards for the libraries in tweed so that they can potentially open to some customers.

‘Tweed Shire Council last night agreed to provide extra security resources to allow the opening of Tweed Heads, Kingscliff and Murwillumbah libraries,’ the RTRL spokesperason told The Echo.

‘This includes the employment of security guards who will check vaccination certificates and ensure mask are worn and patrons adhere to social distancing while in the library. These patrons will be able to access the full range of library services. The Click and Collect service at these libraries will continue to be offered to those who are not double vaccinated.

State directives

‘The decision to allow certain freedoms to the double vaccinated and not to the single or non-vaccinated was made by the State Government, not library management or Councils that make up the RTRL network. Library management continues to work through how we can open more services under the State Government’s roadmap and Public Health Orders.

‘Once again, we ask all community members to respect our library staff who are working under very difficult situation to deliver a wonderful service to the community.

The safety of our staff and our community will always be our top priority.’

Other businesses suffering

Mayor Cherry has said it is not only the library network who are having to make difficult decisions about whether to open or not.

‘People are being punished because the vaccinations weren’t here in time for people to be double vaccinated on the same time line as Sydney,’ she said.

‘It is a wicked problem they [State Government] have given to businesses. The NSW Premier said this was about keeping businesses alive and moving forward but this has achieved the complete reverse of that aim for the regions because of his failure to address the needs of the regions and because roadmap is so Sydney centric.

‘The Premier is not answering our calls for a meeting through government NSW and the road map is a huge step backwards for the regions. The State Government haven’t agreed to give us a meeting and so many businesses in the region are having to decide not to open or restrict operations because of the challenges of being placed in an enforcement position. They have placed our businesses in a terrible position to make these choices. We need a different solution here and the Premier needs to show he is listening to regional areas’

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  1. What a complete and utter balls-up.

    a; from state govt and b; from Library Management in Lismore.

    Shameful to close libraries when they are needed most.

  2. Re: Mayor Cherry’s Comment on Vaccine Availability. Complete and utter rubbish to claim that supplies of vaccine were not available. In Tweed Shire/Northern Rivers Astra Zeneca Vaccine had been freely available to over 65’s and the vulnerable since May and Astra Zeneca and Pfizer to the general population over 16 since August. No excuse for anybody over 16 not to be fully vaccinated by now.

    • I’d certainly agree that much of our low vaccination levels can be explained by pure choice. However I know under 50s who could not get appointments until late September for the only vaccine approved for them at the time, Pfizer. Even after approval came through there was a clear message from some providers that they would not administer AZ without a letter of approval from a doctor.

      Even those who chose to pursue this course were left with trying to calculate the fastest route to full vaccination with a 12 week recommended gap for AZ compared but three weeks for Pfizer.

      It’s certainly been easy for the 60+, even 50+ Age group to be fully vaccinated by now. For those under 50 there has certainly not been the same availability of Pfizer nor the flexibility with the recommendations as has existed in Sydney.

      I’d suggest though, that those behaving belligerently in libraries etc are not younger people who are waiting for their second dose but those who made the decision long ago to not get vaccinated.

  3. A huge thank you to Tweed Shire Councillors for their solution to our library closures! Common sense has prevailed so that elderly patrons in particular will not be further disadvantaged. Well done for taking such prompt action.


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