Byron mayor fired up

GREEDY tourism operators copped a double-barrelled serve from Byron Shire’s mayor yesterday.

Addressing a council meeting, Cr Jan Barham said the tourism industry ‘needs to get a grip on its responsibilities’.

“It galls me that there are a lot of people making money out of tourists – and I’m talking about holiday lets here – and not paying their way.”

Holiday letting was ‘leaving us all exposed’, she said.

“It is unregulated tourism, and if something goes wrong it is the council that will have to bear the responsibility,” she said.

Cr Barham was supporting a motion to grant the Brunswick Heads Visitors Centre $5000 to help carry it into the next financial year.

She supported the motion ‘reluctantly’, she said, and only because the centre did such a good job.

“But we owe it to the community to get tourism right,” she said.

The motion was carried.

The issue came up again when the subject of affordable housing, by way of second dwellings such as granny flats, was discussed.

Cr Barham said safeguards needed to be introduced to ensure such residences were really being used for the purpose of affordable housing.

“As you can see when you drive through Suffolk Park, there are plenty of garages that have been converted for living in and are being rented out at $1000 a week,” she said.

The State Government had ‘done something right for once by cutting red tape around second dwellings, but we need to be able to regulate them, and to make them safe’.

Also on the agenda at the meeting was a ‘mini-bypass’ for Byron Bay, a topic that has been discussed for 25 years, according to Cr Richard Staples.

A motion calling for support of a diversion to alleviate congestion along Shirley and Jonson streets during next summer’s peak was supported, pending a report on the various options and costs involved.

Cr Basil Cameron opposed this, arguing that such a diversion would only shift congestion to another place.

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