The big decision Ballina council made in just 19 minutes
APPLAUSE came from the public gallery when Ballina Shire councillors unanimously voted to end to a one-way traffic trial in Lennox Head.
The seven councillors who attended this afternoon's extraordinary meeting on the issue came to a decision just 19 minutes after the meeting opened.
Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce president Zain Peart addressed councillors, urging them to support a recommendation from council staff that the one-way trial through the main street end early.
He said it was street-front businesses reliant on foot traffic that were most seriously affected.
"The businesses that are hurting down there are the ones that give Lennox its vibe," he said.
"The trial was a great success. Really, from this trial, we can tell Lennox doesn't want a one-way street, it doesn't work for Lennox Head."
"If we let this go to 12 weeks and everyone changes their habits ... it's going to be very hard."
Mayor David Wright and councillors Phil Meehan, Eoin Johnstone, Stephen McCarthy, Sharon Cadwallader, Ben Smith and Keith Williams all spoke in favour of ending the trial early and moving ahead with plans for the village renewal project based on a two-way traffic flow.
Cr Williams said the economic risk of continuing the trial through Easter was "too great".
"We know enough now to make sure we don't damage business prospects over Easter," Cr Williams said.
Cr Cadwallader said she began getting feedback from the first week of the trial.
"It has been a success, I believe, because it's told us that it's not going to work for Lennox," she said.
"It's time to now get on with the upgrading of the village."
Cr Meehan said the trial area "feels like a car park" and said they should "support and protect" the village's businesses.
Cr Smith noted the business chamber was "quite supportive of the process and encouraged people to give it a shot".
"I think it's quite telling when the chamber comes back and says maybe let's put the brakes to this," he said.
"It's always nice to have more data but I don't think it's practical or realistic in this circumstance."
Cr Wright said there had been more than 900 responses to the council's online survey on the trial, most of them opposing a permanent one-way traffic flow.
"We desperately need Lennox Head to be thriving," he said.
Mr Peart and Coast at Lennox Head cafe owner Frank McWilliams welcomed the council's decision.
"Our message to all locals is come back to Lennox immediately and support your local businesses," Mr McWilliams said.
"We all want to have a really good town but unless you do support local, we all will suffer."