Darts fly? over Byron holiday letting



BYRON Shire mayor Jan Barham branded the operators of illegal holiday letting in residential areas as 'greedy'.

At Tuesday's general council meeting, the mayor said she had heard of threats being made to those who opposed the holiday letting crackdown.

"I'm very supportive of the tourism industry, but, by gee, it has to lift its game," she said.

"This is not about rules, or money, it's about people.

"It's about the loss of community and you can't buy community."

Greens councillor, and now community representative of Tourism Byron, Sandra Heilpern said the 'darts were flying' during the meeting.

However, the darts have been flying between the tourism industry and the council since mayor Jan Barham introduced a proposal last month to restrict holiday letting of houses in residential areas to just two months a year.

The plan is part of an overhaul of the new Byron Bay, Ewingsdale and Suffolk Park local environment plans.

Byron Bay real estate agents have reacted angrily to the changes and threatened legal action, claiming the move would gut their $100 million tourism industry.

And, the darts continued to fly on Tuesday. Ms Heilpern, and Tourism Byron chairman and leading holiday accommo- dation provider Grant Hawkins called for a meeting between 20 stakeholders on the issue.

Mr Hawkins said he was concerned the council's proposal for holiday letting was not the solution to the noise, rubbish and parking problems generated by rowdy holiday makers in residential areas.

"We see there is a lack of understanding from all sides,' Mr Hawkins said.

"This is a complicated issue and we are concerned that the solution on the table may not address the key problems."

Mr Hawkins had written to the council inviting councillors to a meeting to discuss the regulation of holiday lettings, before the new LEP goes on public exhibition.

The meeting idea was eventually passed by the council, on the condition it would be facilitated and that council funding for the meeting would be limited to $1500.

Councillors and representatives from the tourism industry, residents' groups and council staff will attend and a report on the outline of the meeting will be presented to the council within 10 days.

However, the meeting did not find strong support with mayor Jan Barham or Cr John Lazarus who both spoke in strong terms against the illegal holiday letting situation.

"It is unlawful to carry out a commercial business in a residential area and residents have rights," Cr Lazarus said.

Cr Lazarus said the Byron community had effectively 'put up a speed camera on holiday letting' to catch out the illegal operators and were not about to back down.

"We don't have to do anything except enforce the residents' rights," he said.

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