CHANGING TIMES: Byron Councillor Paul Spooner.
CHANGING TIMES: Byron Councillor Paul Spooner. Sam Elley

Councillor slams Byron's ostrich politics

IN A fiery letter to Byron Shire News Labor Councillor Paul Spooner has accused Byron council and others of failing to change with the times.

He said council and some in the community were engaging in ostrich politics, trapped in a so called 'golden age of activism' where saying no to any form of development was seen as a virtue.

Byron's Ostrich Politics

Cr Spooner cited the the invasion of Airbnb, conflict over the Byron Bay Bypass and the shire's poor roads as examples of what happens when a community says no all the time.

"We have not planned properly for the massive influx of tourists we get here and failed to develop adequate tourism infrastructure or a coherent policy and this leaves us vulnerable to holiday letting platforms like Airbnb,” he said.

"Stopping tourism developments may have saved a snail but it delivered a town (full) of holiday lets on steroids increasingly devouring a community.”

He claims that because many in the community hoped and believed a train service would one day return to the de-commissioned Casino to Murwillumbah line, the idea of utilising the existing rail corridor as a road was ruled out.

"We didn't seriously discuss running the bypass down the existing rail corridor because some were hoping for the return of trains, so going through the wetland was the only remaining option,” he said.

Cr Spooner said that, "refusing to adequately plan for community infrastructure created a culture that tolerates crappy roads not out of place in the backwaters of a third world country.

"We have been too fractured to plan adequately or to keep our roads in good order,” he said.

"Look at Ballina Council, their road network is better than ours and I believe that is because they have been properly focussed on doing so.”

Some on social media accused Cr Spooner of wanting open slather for developers.

He rejected this saying tactics of the past had failed and called on the community to, "back in the elected council so it can effectively negotiate with other levels of government and developers from a position of strength and unity.”