BYRON Shire has never had a vehicle to tackle its social and community problems; a situation which has contributed to its poor governance, says Byron Bay business and cultural identity, Chris Hanley.
Mr Hanley will be chairing the Building A Better Community meeting at Byron Bay on Thursday night at which it is hoped a group representing a broad array of interests will be formed to discuss and resolve issues like alcohol-fuelled violence, traffic congestion and the strains caused by tourists that the community has been grappling with for decades.
It follows on from the full house that turned out for the Australia Day community forum Strange Bedfellows, sparked by widespread anger over the damage caused by tourists who swamped the town over the Christmas and new year period.
It is anticipated that the new committee would play an advisory role to council, business, and the State Government.
Mr Hanley, the chair of the Byron Bay Writers' Festival and principal of First National Byron Bay Real Estate, said he wanted the group to provide a safe place to discuss issues in an area where a lot of people were reticent to speak up due to the often aggressive nature of local debate.
He stressed that he wanted people to get involved who were passionate about the area and also had a track record of community involvement and achievement. Born-and-bred locals who often felt alienated are also particularly welcome.
"If anyone should be listened to it is them. They've got local knowledge and wisdom," he said.
"This is an attempt to see whether our community governance can match the success of our cultural and not-for-profit organisations."
One of the ideas Mr Hanley will be putting forward at the forum is the creation of a state-of-the-art Byron Shire website that sets out the values of the community and asks visitors to respect them.
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