Council has apologised for the confusion over plans for Railway Park.
Council has apologised for the confusion over plans for Railway Park. Samantha Poate

'I would have jumped on bulldozer' to protect trees: Mayor

Update 3pm: BYRON Shire councillors are "absolutely devastated" by the way works at Railway Park were undertaken this week.

Due to an obvious breakdown in communication, councillors were completely blind sighted when angry community members approached them with complaints about trees being cut down in the park. 

Mayor Simon Richardson said the situation was brought to his attention when he saw a photo on Facebook.

"It was devastating, I've spent many years of my life in the forest protecting biodiversity and certainly if I saw those trees being taken away at Railway Park I would've jumped on the bulldozer," Cr Richardson said.

Cr Richardson said he appreciated the general manager's apology issued on Facebook today and said it was necessary for the community to move on and learn from this mistake.

"I thank him for that, it was appropriate, but still it is never easy to publicly admit a mistake," Cr Richardson said.

The mayor said he also wanted to extend this apology to the Byron Bay Town Centre Master Plan committee.

"Those guys certainly didn't put their hand up to be pretty maliciously and heavily criticised over something they had no blame or fault what so ever," Cr Richardson said.

Cr Sarah Ndiaye said it was a real shame the committee was blamed.

"The people on the committee are dedicated locals from all walks of life who have been working together for many months on trying to improve the Town Centre," she said.

"Their work should be applauded and I'm sure once this issue is resolved, we'll start to see some of these ideas being acted upon."

Cr Richardson said he expects the cause of the issue was a misunderstanding between the General Manager and the Town Centre Master Plan Committee.

"I think we had the General Manager hearing from the Master Plan Group that things were going to slowly, so he then acted too quickly in response," he said.

"As an organisation, we were really keen to get things moving and then with extra pressure to do so I think they just overextended what quickly actually means."

"Quickly doesn't mean overstepping the community to deliver, it means just getting the normal stages of engagement and construction happening quickly and clearly."

Cr Richardson said council and the committee are focusing on repairing and restoring community faith in the project to make the best revitalised town centre possible.


Original story, 11.50am: BYRON Shire Council has issued a formal apology on their Facebook page in response to community uproar surrounding landscaping works completed at Railway Park this week.

Council staff recently removed two trees and a Bangalow Palm from Railway Park in Byron Bay in preparation for imminent park redevelopment works.

General manager Ken Gainger said the council was deeply sorry for removing these trees without adequate consultation or communication with the local community.

"We have underestimated the level of community concern at such action and for this I sincerely apologise," Mr Gainger said.

Councillors were also among the people this apology extended to, having received the brunt of community backlash and questions when they were just as much in the dark as everyone else.

"I also apologise to our Councillors for any embarrassment that the tree removal may have caused," Mr Gainger said.

"We look forward to working together to deliver a revitalised public space that we can all be proud of."

Fencing at Railway Park is said to be taken down tonight, just in time for the weekend markets.

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