‘Don’t give up on us baby’. Byron wants Sue to come back
HI SUE, it's Byron Bay here, you're right, we do need to talk.
I'm sorry to hear your heart isn't in it anymore, but like any lovely and long lasting relationship, it needs effort and commitment to work.
Giving up means we miss out on the great bits and I bring plenty of great bits to our relationship don't I?
My people, my beaches, my markets, my local shops and my ability to support great thought and passionate ideals.
I've been a place where people have come to visit, share and celebrate for thousands of years, in fact way back to when I had a different name- Cavanbah- which meant meeting place.
I always had a guardian group of locals who looked after me and ensured a balance-that's why I still need you.
Starting back in the 1970s when tourism was decided as the main activity for me we have struggled to have enough people committed to plan and think long term.
Some wanted tourism to go away, others wanted it unbridled.
Me, I just need a balance. Thus, my roads haven't been able to take the traffic, my toilets and showers and seats and garden beds have all taken a hammering, and it seems the visitors haven't really paid me much for their visit.
But things are changing Sue and I need people like you to help them change. Finally a dedicated team has been appointed to beautify me and my gardens and streets are cleaner than ever.
Also, a Masterplan, with support of locals like you, will allow me to shine and reflect you- creative, clean, pedestrian friendly and with lovely amenities.
I still have problems-and you're right in identifying a big problem. I'm too dependent on one industry. Too many shops focusing on visitors and not enough on locals- perhaps you can ask the locals who own the shops to preference local businesses when deciding leases?
I would like to defend the backpacker group you identify though. No one group is perfect, but backpackers do stay a long time and spend a lot of money. Some sleep in cars, but most use hostels and not holiday lets in my suburbs.
Most love the area and drink responsibly and take these wonderful stories of me to their friends around the world, creating a great reputation. I don't see them partying and fighting and hurting me and you, like I do weekend visitors from around the area and just over the border.
Please don't give up on me. I'm not sure if you were here over the last few New Years Eves, but they have been wonderful because locals like you, local organisations and council have created a family friendly event that was even voted top 5 in the world last year by the Sydney Morning Herald-especially due to our great First Sun dawn event.
We have turned the pools of vomit you describe into pools of chalk drawings on the streets and pools of laughter.
I hear your frustration and wavering commitment Sue, and so have others. That's why the mayor and others are trying to diversify our area so we don't just rely on one industry.
That's why he and others are working to develop more opportunities for education, research and innovation precincts. That's why he and others are working to make me a zero emission town, which could create plenty of local jobs and careers.
That's why he and others are looking to develop best practice land use and agricultural sectors for more local jobs. And that's why he and others are looking to reclaim our town for locals- a town that is beautiful, casual and creative.
I need your help Sue. So does the mayor and other progressive councilors and locals.
We all need to understand that I am strong, no, WE are strong, when we maintain diversity. Diversity of opinions, diverse types of locals and visitors, diverse shops, diverse industries and diverse ways to work, move, live and socialise.
This is not easy now and will not be easy in the future. I am not perfect, but I'm trying and I am committed to this, as is the mayor and so many locals. Sue, keep your faith, maintain your love for all that is great in me. If you wish, maintain your rage for all that is threatening me. But Sue, don't give up on me.
Love always, through thick and thin,
(with help from Simon Richardson, mayor of Byron Shire)
Read the original post by Sue Gardiner and The Northern Star editor's response here.