The Byron Shire mayor is again rejecting calls for closed circuit television as a solution to Byron Bay’s problems with after-hours drunken and anti-social behaviour.
Last night dramatic footage of street fights in the town over the weekend was shown on commercial television.
Jan Barham says it is unfortunate that the footage and negative comments were shown on national television.
“Byron Bay has had issues for 20 years but we’ve dealt with them (New Years Eve and schoolies)…we’ve been able to come up with ways of dealing with things.
“The feeling I get from people is that they’re concerned that surveillance cameras are something imposed on the whole community….and impinge on their civil liberties”.
Ms Barham says the problem is clearly about alcohol and those businesses which profit from alcohol need to take responsibility for violence in Byron Bay.
But the Byron Liquor Accord says the organisation is working hard to stem anti-social behaviour.
Elke van Haandle says the accord has come up with a number of ways the violence can be prevented however council has not been supportive.
“The council is resisting helping us in the other efforts we’re trying to get.
“We want better lighting, CCTV, we want to move the taxi rank so it’s not in the hub of town where there is conflict with people.”
Recently Byron Shire councillor Diane Woods moved a motion in council to explore the possibility of CCTV footage but it was rejected.
She says there are many people in the community who do support CCTV and the time could be right to revisit the issue.
“ CCTV cameras do work…they’re in Nimbin, they’re in Lismore, they’re in Murwillumbah they are a great deterrent and of great assistance to the police should there be any occurrences….it’s about the safety of our community.
Paramedic and secretary of the ambulance sub-branch with the Health Services Union, Wayne Lowrey agrees that CCTV cameras would be a step in the right direction.
Mr Lowrey has spent more than 10 years working in the Byron Bay region and says the service of alcohol should cease earlier.
He says the police do a great job and their presence makes a difference.
“We get more police patrols in and that seems to quieten down for a while and you take the foot of the accelerator and then it all comes back”.
The state’s police minister Mike Gallacher has backed local police calls for council to install CCTV in Byron Bay’s hotspots.
Superintendent Stuart Wilkins from the Tweed Byron Command says CCTV would assist police with their investigations.
He says early lock-out is another measure police favoured by police.
But Superintendent Wilkins says extra police won’t resolve the problem.
“I now have to send a significant amount of the resources of this command to Byron Bay to quell the violence late at night on a Friday and Saturday night to the detriment to the rest of this community.
“I’ve sent 60 extra shifts down there over the last two months to try and stop the violence but it’s not working”.
Source ABC News