Mayor shell-shocked after business group fires broadside
By Hannah Ross
BYRON Shire mayor Jan Barham has defended her council's record in Byron Bay following a searing attack by the town's business group, Byron United. The group's president, Ed Ahearn, delivered a broadside attack last Thursday, saying Cr Barham led a council of 'inaction and negativity'. "Byron United is tired of excuses and wants to know when the Byron Shire Council is going to step up and get something done in Byron Bay," Mr Ahearn said in his statement. The mayor told The Northern Star she was 'a bit shocked' by Byron United's 'chesty dump' on the council. "I don't think this is a helpful way to be discussing what council does and how we work as a community," Cr Barham said. "I accept this sort of comment and attack come with the territory. It represents the downside of politics that people can make unsubstantiated attacks and spread misinformation. Such attacks deter people from getting into politics." Byron United took aim at the council over repairs to the walkway along Lighthouse Road; the need for a Byron CBD bypass to improve traffic conditions; the state of the Byron Youth Services building, Byron public library, public toilets, parks and public spaces in the town; and the need for adequate and safe bicycle tracks. "It's about time this town got the attention it deserves. It's where they pull the majority of their revenue, but as far as we are concerned precious little is coming back," Mr Ahearn said. "We have asked council for its support in creating a future vision for the entire Byron Bay community, but we get knocked back. How can we move forward without a plan in place for the future? "This council has until September this year to prove themselves and the community needs to put them on notice." However, Cr Barham said the council had told Byron United time and again matters such as the Lighthouse Road walkway and the Byron CBD bypass were in the hands of the State Government. She said Byron United gave the council no credit for the numerous public works done around Byron Bay, or the $80,000 spent recently on a tourism management plan. "This council is only two years out of debt and we need to meet the needs of the whole community with a limited budget. It is ironic that people outside of Byron Bay complain all the money is being spent in Byron Bay," Cr Barham said.