Mayor gets his knickers in a twist over nude beach
TYAGARAH beach in Byron Bay will remain clothing optional following a dramatic meeting of Byron Shire Council that saw Mayor Simon Richardson use his casting vote to vote against himself.
Emotions ran high inside and outside the chamber as councillors debated a rescission motion from Labour Councillor Paul Spooner that would have seen Tyagarah's nude beach closed and the community consulted about declaring a section of beach beyond the Wreck a nude beach on a 12-month trial.
In the wake of the meeting, a furious Cr Paul Spooner called on the minister for local government, Gabrielle Upton: "To come and have a look at Byron Shire Council, as it no longer represents the interests of its residents, in terms of the decision taken today."
Opponents of the nude beach, including Arakwal woman, Delta Kay, cited concerns over increased levels of lewd behaviour and sexual assaults that have occurred in and around the beach. Cr Spooner cited police figures that revealed there had been 97 incidents reported to police already.
Debate climaxed with Cr Spooner waving a cricket bat around in the chamber, he said, to reflect the extent to which some Tyagarah residents felt they needed to go to in order to protect themselves from sex pests that now frequented the beach and nearby carpark and Ti-Tree lake.
During the debate, Mayor Simon Richardson declared he had changed his mind and was in favour of revoking Tyagarah's clothing optional status, but with the vote tied he told the meeting he felt duty bound to use his casting mayoral vote to reflect the views of the absent Cr Jeanette Martin and sink the rescission motion.
Mayor Richardson acknowledged the frustration some felt at the decision.
"That was dreadful moment for me, I checked with the absent councillor and she had not changed her mind, so I voted accordingly," he said. "But for me the case was made quite clearly that it is wrong to knowingly and wilfully have a clothing optional beach in an isolated area that will only increase the likelihood of sexual predation and intimidation for those who don't deserve it.
"The police made it clear to me do not have the resources to continually patrol Tyagarah. I would encourage those who are intimidated or subject to unwanted attention while using the beach to please report those incidents to the police."