Surf schools may face wipe-out
COMPETITION will be fierce for surf school licences in the Ballina Shire with the council, for the first time, calling for tenders for the licences.
In the past the council has simply reissued licences to the same operators each year.
This meant new operators could not enter the market.
But the council’s manager of open spaces and reserves, Jillian Pratten, said they were now offering three surf school licences, three stand-up paddle school licences and four licences for elite surf or specialist surf schools.
She said the council received many enquiries and, under a revised policy, the licences now require open tendering.
“The council needs to manage the number and size of operators on the shire’s beaches and ensure that they do not adversely impact recreational beach users,” Ms Pratten said.
“The council also recognises that surf schools provide a unique visitor experience and it is important that the shire has professional and reputable operators providing these popular activities.”
Owner of Summerland Surf School, Simon Freeden said the tender selection process must protect the ‘long term interests’ of the shire.
“We know this process has got to go ahead and we totally understand that,” he said.
“But the council needs to think about the long-term impacts of the schools they award the tenders to.
“We’ve been doing this for 13 years and we’re active in the community.
“We have the best interests of the region at heart. We have a strong emphasis on surf safety.”
Mr Freeden said there was also some concern amongst local surf school operators that tenders will now be put in by Byron Bay-based schools.
That’s because Byron Shire licences are ‘over the top expensive’ and Ballina’s are ‘fairly reasonable’, he said.