'UNACCEPTABLE': Shock decision on World Surf League plan
Ballina Shire Council has voted against the World Surf League's Plans to hold an event at Lennox Head over Easter.
Despite a staff recommendation to support the event, councillors backed Cr Jeff Johnson's motion to reject the proposal.
His motion stated reasons such as the "unacceptable risk that the event presents to our community due to COVID, the unacceptable impact on the Lennox community in terms of loss of amenity and overcrowding during a busy holiday period".
The motion also highlighted that the "surfing reserve has been established as a surfing sanctuary and is not to be used by a private commercial operator to the exclusion of all other users".
It also raised concerns about the lack of an actual application for the event, proper process and community consultation.
Speaking to his motion, Cr Johnson said he was not against holding surfing contests in Lennox Head.
"But the scale and the time of the year that this proposal is slotted for, is significant," he said.
"I only became aware of this proposal a couple of days ago. I see this as a gross breach of proper process."
WSL boss Andrew Stark gave a short presentation about the organisation's plans.
He apologised for the short notice but said the COVID-19 pandemic had created difficulties.
"We've had to move at lightning speed and I do apologise … this is a one-off," he said.
"We have only proposed a very scaled down formula … we can only have 3000 people there.
"I know some of the locals have been quite outspoken, but we do want to work with the local community.
"Lennox Head is an internationally recognised surf break. The area has delivered many champions to the world.
"It's a great event for Australia and hopefully we can progress and work with the community and deliver something fantastic."
The deputy premier is expected to be in Lennox Head tomorrow to announce the government's support for the WSL hosting an event in the area.
However the council's general manager, Paul Hickey, confirmed that council staff would "tell the organisers that it is not supported and the application would not be approved".