Byron residents seek a fair deal for squatters
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
BYRON Bay residents living near the illegal squatters-camp at Sandhills Estate are divided over whether the squatters should stay or go.
Some residents have called on Byron Shire Council to find an alternative place for up to 40 squatters to live, while many residents The Northern Star has spoken to say they have no problems with the illegal camp.
The squatters have been living in the 14ha Crown estate near Clarkes Beach for several years, despite having no access to basic amenities such as running water, toilets, electricity or waste services.
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, has called on the council to fix the situa- tion after he was confronted by a group of men while riding his bicycle along a track that runs through the estate.
"I turned around and hightailed it back the other way," the man said.
"It was in the morning , but they'd already had a few drinks.
"A little girl was raped in that bush, and there's been a murder there.
"I'm on my guard now after that experience, but I'm also concerned about the people living there.
"I'd like to see the government make a place for them in the forest."
"I know they're there illegally, but the council could give them somewhere to live and offer them support."
However, another resident, 35-year-old mother, Syama Priya, said she was not frightened by the squatters.
"I still walk through the bush track," she said.
"I know at least two of the squatters and I feel it's important for them to have a place where they can be safe and not be harassed.
"But it is also important that they are responsible and keep it clean."
Joel Hughes, 22, another resident near the estate, also supports the squatters."I live here with my girlfriend and her parents and I work as a chef," Joel said.
"I hear things at night, rustles and stuff, but I don't know if its squatters or the backpackers who camp across the road in their vans.
"The other night some guy came knocking on our windows.
He was just very out of it, asking were he was.