Working groups formed at Byron community forum

New Years Eve celebrations which got out of hand in Byron Bay prompted a series of community forums to attempt to address social problems in the town.
New Years Eve celebrations which got out of hand in Byron Bay prompted a series of community forums to attempt to address social problems in the town. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

AFTER two hours of debate, a loose organisational structure to address Byron Shire's most pressing social and infrastructure issues emerged at last night's Thur FEb 21 community forum.

The third Byron community forum in two months attracted a slightly smaller crowd than the previous two which may have been due to the bad weather.

But as chair Chris Hanley tipped at the start of the night, this was the most difficult one yet trying to achieve consensus in the room for what kind of structure to form in order to get down to "doing stuff".

It came after two forums where the town's problems including alcohol-related violence were discussed and debated.

It was clear that some in the room believed the stage of getting down to implementing practical solutions was taking too long.

"For those of you who are frustrated, tonight was always going to be the hard night," Mr Hanley told the crowd.

Eventually it was decided to adopt Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson's idea to form sub-groups under key issues including New Year's Eve, beautiful Byron (the environment), young at heart (youth), Byron at night (alcohol-related violence), and traffic/infrastructure (congestion).

Many people accepted the invitation to leave their contact details for their chosen sub-group in notebooks that were passed around the room.

It was also decided that a representative from each of these sub-groups would be selected to join the members of the forum panel - including Cr Richardson, Cr Paul Spooner, lawyer Michele Joncourt, local businessman Geoff Bensley, and Feros Care Home's Shirley NelsonÖ - on a steering committee.

It is planned that this steering committee will meet to brain storm ideas to bring before another group meeting at the same venue in a month's time.

At this meeting a process to engage people in quality conversations called The World Cafe would be used to gain feedback and engage the attendees on the ideas that will be presented to them.

Topics:  byron bay community forum

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