Council repreive for Beach Cafe
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
THE Beach Cafe at Byron Bay's Clarks Beach has escaped a move by Byron Shire councillor Bob Tardif to have it closed down.
Tardif wanted to close the council-owned Beach Cafe after a staff report said it did not comply with health and safety requirements under the Food Act, and after receiving a damaging report from an industry competitor which had tendered twice for the cafe lease.
James Lancaster, from Olivo Cafe in Byron Bay, has applied twice to gain the lease on the cafe, and on Tuesday told councillors the cafe was riddled with Occupational Health and Safety problems.
"When we did an inspection of the cafe we did an Occupational, Health and Safety assessment and found the premises to be unclean and unsuitable for food use," Mr Lancaster said.
Cr Tardif moved to end the lease after hearing Mr Lancaster's claims and reading a council staff report that advised no new lease be entered into until the cafe could be redeveloped to comply with statuary requirements.
"To do so would be endorsing the illegal operation of the cafe," the report stated.
"This report should have knocked our socks off," Cr Tardif said.
"This restaurant does not comply in any way. We are managing a restaurant that is, in blunt terms, 'unhealthy'."
However, Cr Tardif's move was knocked back by fellow councillors, with mayor Jan Barham admonishing him for making 'misleading' and 'mischievous' claims based on reports external to the Byron council.
General manager Pamela Westing also advised against Cr Tardif's proposal, saying the compliance issues were being dealt with in the proper way by the council's health and compliance team.
"Closing a cafe down for cleanliness is a last resort action," she said.
Ms Westing said it could leave the council liable to civil action by the leaseholder.
Cr Tardif was then forced to remove a part of his motion that read: 'The standard of cleanliness is considered by council to be a risk to the public health.'
His motion failed and the council voted instead to allow a development application to be prepared by staff for a new amenities block to be added to the already approved redevelopment application for the cafe.
The future of the cafe, on Crown reserve land at Clarks Beach, has been long debated, with the council twice in the past 12 months calling for, then voting against, tenders for the lease of the cafe.
The issue at stake is who should pay for the muchneeded revamp of the cafe to bring it into line with health and safety requirements.
At the meeting, James Lancaster also argued that the success of any tender be weighted by the applicant's ability to pay for capital works improvements.
However, Cr Ross Tucker argued against the idea, saying it would leave the tender process 'open to manipulation'.
Cr Tucker said it would be akin to asking a tenant to pay for home improvements as a condition of the lease.
"The council should bring it up to the necessary standards then lease it out," he said.
Peter Saulwick, who has been managing the cafe for over a decade, is now on a month-by-month lease while the council debates whether or not to rebuild the cafe, and who will pay.
He told councillors he supported recommendations to redevelop the site to include an upgraded staff amenities block and for the cafe to take responsibility of the storage and hiring of two all-terrain wheelchairs.