Herb Elliott at the opening of the Byron Regional Sporting and Cultural Complex.
Herb Elliott at the opening of the Byron Regional Sporting and Cultural Complex. Jay Cronan

false start for Little Athletics

BYRON Bay Little Athletics president Tim Gotterson feels his club has been slapped in the face after it was locked out of its new facilities at the Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex yesterday.

Gotterson was told by Byron Shire Council that a user agreement was still being finalised by council lawyers and that sport groups couldn't use the fields until the document is signed.

Meanwhile, all existing fields also subject to the new user agreement in Byron Bay can continue to be used as before.

Gotterson is furious at Byron Shire Council general manager Gr Graeme Faulkner and executive manager of community infrastructure Phillip Holloway after the club moved all its equipment to the new facility last weekend where it is now under lock and key.

Little A's was cancelled last night with fears that the issue could take months until it is sorted.

"I was assured at least three times that everything was sorted and we were right to use the facilities after the opening last weekend," Gotterson said.

"I can't believe the miscommunication that's going on with the council and I don't know what they were thinking.

"The rugby club has taken over the use of our container at the old grounds and they are no longer adequately marked for athletics so we can't go back there."

The Little A's were a major part of the official opening of the $17 million multi-purpose facilities that included former Olympian Herb Elliot last Friday.

Among the features of the new complex are a huge indoor multi-purpose hall, seven outdoor playing fields, netball courts, athletics tracks, cricket nets, as well as function and meeting rooms, a stage and a commercial kitchen.

"The opening day activities were a great success and partially due to the efforts of clubs like ours," Gotterson said.

The timing couldn't be worse for the athletics club having already had a rain-affected summer and with state championships coming up.

"The weather has already led to a number of cancellations and if we have nowhere to go it could wipe us out next season," Gotterson said

"With the cost of fees and value for money it would be easy for some parents to pull the pin.

"We might be able to use some of the facilities at Mullumbimby but it's silly when we already have our own.

"It was a big effort to move all the gear over there and we have 120 kids with nothing to do now."

Byron Shire Council executive manager of community infrastructure Phillip Holloway hopes to have the situation resolved early next week.

"We understand sport groups are keen to get on there and we intend to have them there next Friday night," Holloway said.

"It's not a complex thing, it's just something we need to get sorted."



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