Byron youth venue faces a long wait
By ANDY PARKS firstname.lastname@example.org YOUNG people in Byron Bay who had their only entertainment venue closed down by the council in January 2007, are not likely to see it re-opened until July next year.
A report being presented to council today outlines for the first time a timeline for repairs. The building needs significant fire and safety improvements to meet standards required for a Place of Public Entertainment (POPE) licence.
The Byron Youth Activities Centre (YAC) had been operating as an all-ages music venue since the early 1990's before it was closed down as an entertainment venue earlier this year.
The building is owned and managed by the Byron Shire Council which was first advised in a report dating back to November, 2005 it needed major work. In August, 2006 council allocated $111,000 to carry out the repairs.
Jesse Lawrence has been playing in bands and booking shows at the YAC for several years.
"It definitely affects me because there are no other venues in Byron Bay. All the local bands can't play shows anymore," he said.
"The YAC had good vibes and really good sound. There were no problems at shows there. Every kid in the Byron hardcore scene calls that venue home."
Byron Youth Services (BYS) are still able to operate their programs out of the building, but according to director Paul Spooner getting a POPE licence has been a farce.
"The time that this has taken is just unbelievable. We need to have this facility open for young people. It should have been completed before the summer season," he said.
The YAC had been a popular venue for hardcore music and all-ages dance parties before it was shut.
According to Mr Spooner, one of the effects of the venue being closed is that young people have had to go outside the shire for entertainment which they should have been able to get in Byron Bay
Jim Bolger is the acting director of governance and community services for Byron Shire Council and is responsible for overseeing the work. He said construction was scheduled to start in May, 2008 and that the process had been hampered by funding complications because BYS refused to sign a lease for their tenancy in the building.