DIGBY Hildreth nailed it in one when he wrote that we were made exiles in our own community by the disgusting behaviour of the hordes here for NYE (BSN, January 3).
Within one month we have had two truly appalling events sully our town - Schoolies and NYE. I don't know why the community of Byron Shire should be expected to tolerate the abuse of this beautiful place by many of its visitors.
The young women who accompanied my wife and I to the pathetic 9pm fireworks were repeatedly harassed. This was only a day or two after they were "egged" on their way to the Artisans Market.
The alcohol-free nature of NYE was openly mocked, and after encountering three events of public urination, we'd had enough.
Residents are still cleaning their streets of the rubbish left by the thousands of free campers. In the past week we had have human faeces, broken bottles and mounds of litter in our street. We are still retrieving broken bottles and other rubbish in the sand at Clarkes Beach.
Council should immediately and forever withdraw all support from any event that does not make this a better, safer and happier place to live. Let it fund rangers and clean facilities instead.
We all should make 2013 a year of zero tolerance of any activity or behaviour that trashes our town.
WE also despaired at times during the "festive" season in Byron Bay. However, rather than accepting the "battle being lost", I propose we resist.
Many of us have made a deliberate choice to live and invest in a community that is, essentially, about sustainability.
We are a diverse mix of people with an eclectic mix of interests and viewpoints. We may sometimes disagree on things esoteric but, I suggest, we predominantly agree that respect for others and caring for our environment are paramount.
Our Byron Bay has become a brand worth defending for its lifestyle value as well as its market value. Trash, inconsiderate behaviour, hooning and drunken violence and intimidation are not compatible with our brand.
Tossing glass bottles into beach bonfires; dropping rubbish anywhere it's finished with; shoving shirtless and four-abreast down a crowded footpath; yelling obscenities around families; street fighting: by most world standards these are not the acceptable consequences of tourism.
As the BSN reported last week, many Byron Bay residents were aware of an unpleasant "vibe" in town this year - especially as things seemed to have been heading in a better direction in recent years.
I can't offer anything but a refusal to lightly acquiesce to "exile in my own community" and I hope others closer to the problem can suggest ways to regain the lost ground.
TWENTY years ago Byron woke up to its worst New Year's hangover ever.
Every major newspaper labelled Byron as the worst behaved town in Australia after a night of violence, chaos and mayhem, which left the town trashed.
Genuine tourists left in droves and cancelled their bookings for the following year. Byron was left to clean up the mess and in true Byron style we did just that.
The residents were furious and 1500 people attended three public meetings over the following month to try and resolve this challenge. The Byron Bay New Year's Eve Community Safety Committee (BBNYECSC) was formed comprising residents and major stakeholders. Over the next year strategies were formulated, endorsed by the community and implemented. Byron went from the worst behaved town to achieving Best Practice for dealing with dysfunctional NYE.
The strategies were taken up by the State Government and implemented in other locations dealing with similar crowd problems. The refining of these measures culminated in the millennium NYE celebrations, where more than 30,000 people celebrated NYE in joy, peace and harmony: three arrests only. Byron had reclaimed its town.
The cycle has just about come full circle with this NYE, where the community lost control of its own town to alcohol and drug-fuelled young men. The Byron community involves everyone from the State Government to ratepayers, everyone has a role to play in reclaiming our town over NYE. It is both sad and frustrating to see that the Best Practice Blueprint developed by this committee over seven years for the Premiers Department under council administration has been lost.
Inspector Greg Jago of the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command is quoted as saying that it is vital that a strategic approach is developed.
The solution to our NYE issues is relatively straightforward:
The State Government to provide assistance through grants from the various government departments.
Council to reinstate the Safety Committee and provide logistical support and assistance in accessing these grants.
The business community to support through financial assistance and fundraising expertise.
Liquor outlets to re-adopt some of the main measures as per post 1993
Most importantly the community needs to engage in creative ways to reclaim the night for the residents and genuine guests, so that the anti-social element is the one marginalised and alienated, not the community.
I spoke with a young family that had brought their children to Byron for NYE after experiencing a wonderful night of celebration when they were backpackers 15 years ago: this year no parade, no entertainment, just drunks.
A lost investment in the future, they won't return and multiply this by thousands to gauge the real effect.
It is time for council to reinstate the BBNYECSC, find the how-to-do documents and start implementing some of the original measures, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
In the since years that I was chairperson of this committee, it never ceased to amaze me to the generosity, commitment and creativity of this wonderful community. I hope that these attributes are still alive and well in this town.
All the best for 2013.
Rory and Annie O'Halloran,Byron Bay
Not moving to Lismore
IT'S all very fine for the president of Byron United Paul Waters to state in an interview with the Australian Current Affair program in December that "if anyone in Byron Bay does not like tourism then they can move to Lismore".
There was not one word about the community so it appears that Byron United wants a party town. Well they certainly have one now, which is going back 20 years. But wait! With no infrastructure or parking and people camping everywhere, who do we call after 4pm?
Unfortunately for Mr Waters we are not moving for you or the United mob but we will continue to complain about the noisy holiday lets and campers in our streets and crappers that leave their turds in plastic bags for us to pick up and Mr Waters there are residents in Byron Bay that is called a community.
Surprisingly, our local butcher jumped on Paul Waters' wagon as well, telling us that if we don't like the tourists then we could also move but he missed the point that Byron Bay has always had tourists and that it was my grandmother that was the first caretaker of Clarks Beach Camping Grounds in 1928 but in those days it was real family campers.
Youth service crisis
MANY thanks for your story on the reality of what has been happening in the bay over the NY period.
The BYS Street Cruise team worked NYE and the preceding Friday and Saturday nights and I have never been more disgusted by the violence, disrespect, extreme alcohol consumption, wanton chucking of rubbish, ciggie butts, bottles and cans, public urination and abuse.
Byron indeed lost the battle this year and the cost on so many levels is huge!
What I find astounding is that we can find the money to pay a veritable army of people (police, ambos, rangers, clean-up crews, hospital staff and all the other workers on the ground who deal with the aftermath), we can find money for fireworks, music, Port-a-loos etc for families and visitors to celebrate NYE but we can't find the money to keep Street Cruise going.
We did the last Saturday shift on December 29 and we are now financing the Friday night shift pretty much on our own with some help from one wonderful benefactor.
Street Cruise is a program whose aim is to try to keep our local young people safe. It's a safe place for them to come (the bus) and get food, water, assistance, information and to run through a "safety check" with them.
It's always been a struggle to keep the program happening, but we've somehow managed since 2001. We now have no funding at all. Why isn't the safety of our young people a priority? Street Cruise and our young people really need some help or the program will fold. If you have any cash to spare, call Deb on 0409 170 062 or Byron Youth Service on 6685 7777. We will be so grateful and will discuss the ways in which we can reflect your help to the community'.
BYS Street Cruise
Bed tax welcomed
RESIDENTS of Byron Shire, including Don Page MP, according to a metropolitan newspaper, are angry.
Our shire, like other popular holiday destinations, needs income for the rubbish collection costs, maintenance of public toilet/shower facilities, national parks and beach facilities on top of road maintenance that visitors place on all local ratepayers.
It's heartening that Mr Page supports the user pays principle of a bed tax. Bed taxes are being widely adopted in Germany, Italy and the US.
A bed tax of around $2 per person/night would easily cover the cost of servicing holiday makers, barely dint their wallets and give tourists better, cleaner facilities.
Holiday let gloom
THE article Battle for Byron Bay on rampant tourists leaves us, the permanent residents, with little hope.
If you are one of the unfortunate residents that live next door to a holiday let, you and your family battle party-goers 24 hours a day. Not just in the festive season.
Anyone can understand why we need proper controlled zoning for holiday let businesses, so their impact is limited to areas near the town's amenities.
Also Byron need a campaign to put out there to the public, that Byron is for families, not a party town. CCTV would help to reduce the late-night beat-ups for sure.
Lorraine Saint Claire,
Back to bad old days
ALL the work that we put in for years to have NYE family, tourist, business and local friendly has been destroyed again. It's almost too depressing to write this. We did appeal to Paul Waters of Byron United in council that this could happen but he went ahead with his plans.
The mayor has the best solution - no fireworks at midnight. Even better none at all. The police suffered, the businesses have suffered, ordinary tourists have suffered.
We do have lovely memories of a locals parade lead by Arakwals, a peaceful countdown at midnight, police chatting relaxed with the happy crowds. But now they are just memories.
Maggi Luke,Byron Bay
CONGRATULATIONS on some brilliant one-sided journalism ("Hate mail over canteen row", BSN January 3).
Your article takes the view of one person involved in the story. You gave it coverage as a major story. It is printed as fact without recourse to any other point of view. Yes, the principal is away on school holidays (surprise, surprise!).
How many parents withdrew their volunteer support working in the canteen in opposition to the behaviour of the canteen committee? Answer: many - and they are also your readers.
How many children over the last few years have suffered illness from such "unhealthy practices"? None!
Byron Bay High School has been serving this community well for many years now. Locally it punches above its weight when it comes to results (which you found to be a relevant story on page 11). This sort of unbalanced story tarnishes the image of an excellent school.
George Graham, Byron Bay
IF the development proposed for Station St, Bangalow, is of the same high standard as the new Urban cafe, I don't have a problem with it. The plans I've seen look good and are in keeping with the village streetscape.
Andrew Hunter, Bangalow
I'M responding to Patricia Bigg's letter "In favour of KFC" (BSN, January 3), as one of the "vocal minority" - though I don't recall the survey.
I would have thought it was obvious to even the silent majority that some fast-food brands are associated with rubbish - both nutritionally and explicitly.
To lump all franchises or brands together, fast food or not, as if they all have similar connotations, is denying the meaning of a brand.
We in the "vocal minority" believe that Byron Bay is also a brand and that it has a real market value worth defending from dilution by the incompatible KFC brand.
Tracey H, Byron Bay
How dare they?
I WAS astounded to read where Simon Richardson, Rose Wanchap and Chris Cubis presumed to speak for the whole community in that they told the applicants for the KFC outlet "we would prefer you didn't come".
Now I am not a strong supporter of KFC products, however I defend their right to submit a complying DA and open their business and support from the community, in buying their product, is a matter of choice.
One aspect that has been overlooked by the council interviewing panel is the option for holidaying families to have an occasional KFC or other fast-food meal for, in some cases, a meal in many of our restaurants with their "gold-plated prices" would be unaffordable.
After all council, isn't the family tourist one of the segments we wish to cultivate and not the yobbos that spoiled New Years Eve celebrations for many?
Councillors, I urge you to concentrate on the many important things this shire needs and not get involved in a litigation you cannot win.
Geoff Gill, Byron Bay
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