Burns Point Ferry.
Burns Point Ferry.

'Free money': Council's decision on free ferry for tourists

Update 1pm: BALLINA Shire Council declined to offer free use of Burns Point Ferry to people staying at Ballina Beach Village in South ballina during upcoming major roadworks.

Instead, visitors will have to pay half the ticket fee to use the transport service, after a motion by Cr Sharon Cadwallader to secure some form of compromise.

Cr Keith Williams agreed with an earlier assertion by Cr Nathan Willis that "this is giving people free money because someone has asked".

"This is not giving money to the business, it's just less of a disincentive for people to travel to the business, but I have operated a business that has been significantly impacted by council roadworks.

"I'd prefer a zero percent discount, but I'm willing to compromise for a 50 per cent, and I think we should be very careful with this kind of stuff."  

The decision was taken during today's ordinary meeting.

Original story: THE owner of a South Ballina tourist village has called for Burns Point Ferry to be free for his guests during major roadworks.

Ballina Shire Council is planning to replace Carrs Bridge on River Drive.

The bridge is located south of Carrs Lane and north of Empire Vale Public School, and has had one-way traffic restrictions since 2014.

Due to the location of the project, River Drive will be closed to through traffic while the bridge works are under way.

Anyone located north of the bridge will need to travel by the Burns Point Ferry.

Work to demolish and replace the bridge will start on January 6 and are expected to take six weeks to complete.

 

Carrs Bridge at Keith Hall will be replaced in 2021.
Carrs Bridge at Keith Hall will be replaced in 2021.

 

The timing was chosen in order to have minimal impact on the primary school.

But owner of the Ballina Beach Village, Stuart Roberts, wrote to the council to explain the timetable was "really problematic" for his business.

"We are peak season in a post COVID-19 recovery we cannot afford any additional new and unforeseen business obstacles at this time," he said in a letter to the council.

"We understand the challenges for council managing the three key stakeholders local school, cane farmers and Ballina Beach Village and that no solution is perfect.

"Equally, we cannot afford to take the brunt of this logistic and economic pain."

Mr Roberts has asked the council to waive ferry fees, both ways, for all of his guests.

He said "failure to agree this proposal" would put his business under "real and unfair duress".

Ballina Shire Council staff have recommended a 50 per cent reduction on the weekly motor vehicle ferry ticket price for Ballina Beach Village and Seabreeze Caravan Park guests.

Councillors will vote on the matter at Thursday's ordinary meeting.