Unhappy anniversary: Byron Bay residents at the Lighthouse Road protest yesterday toast five years since the collapse of the walkway.
Unhappy anniversary: Byron Bay residents at the Lighthouse Road protest yesterday toast five years since the collapse of the walkway. Digby Hildreth

Byron locals drown their sorrows

WHILE the champagne flowed and plenty of guests showed up, there was little to celebrate, according to ‘host' Allan Cowley.

Yesterday's gathering at the site of the collapsed walkway in Byron Bay's Lighthouse Road was more one of commiseration, Mr Cowley said.

The Lighthouse Road resident and almost 30 others from the area braved the early morning chill to mark the anniversary of the rains that washed away part of the popular pedestrian route to Wategos Beach and the lighthouse in 2005.

Five years later, the walkway is still not useable – a lapse of time that ‘defied logic', according to Mike Worrall, who has lived at Wategos with his wife Wendy for 40 years.

“There is no reason why it should have taken so damn long,” Mr Worrall said.

The narrowing of the road to one lane meant huge traffic back-ups during peak season, causing residents major problems getting to and from their homes, Mrs Worrall said.

Byron Shire Council has blamed the need to co-ordinate approvals from both the Roads and Traffic Authority and National Parks for the protracted process.

Community infrastructure chief Phil Holloway said the approvals required from numerous state departments for design and Natural Disaster Funding had been exhaustive.

The council resolved last week to call for tenders ‘subject to the completion of the detailed design and documentation' and costs approval by the RTA.

“This is effectively the second time council has gone through the process,” Mr Holloway said.

It was very unlikely the walkway would be repaired by Christmas, he said.

In Mr Cowley view, the State Government and council were ‘in a state of permanent inertia in progressing the construction'.

“Always there are excuses, but never any action,” he said.

“Any construction will not take place until at least after Easter 2011. At this rate we'll be celebrating the seventh anniversary of the collapse in 2012.”



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