ICAC Warning Behind Byron Council’s Termination of Bike Hire Lease
BYRON SHIRE Council’s General Manager, Ken Gainger, said he was disappointed that its efforts to help a ‘start-up’ solar-charged, electric bike hire company have been misconstrued.
At its meeting on the 23 November Council agreed to terminate the lease of the business which was operating from a relocatable ‘pod’ at the First Sun Caravan Park at Byron Bay.
“The operator of the bike hire business approached Council in August 2016 asking for Council, as a show of support for start-ups, to operate from a prominent location such as a car park in the Byron Bay CBD,” Mr Gainger said.
“After consideration Council agreed to provide the business with a six-month rent-free lease to occupy prime commercial land at the First Sun Caravan Park for the purposes of providing public transport, in this case bicycles, to the Byron Shire community and visitors on a trial basis,” he said.
The lease expired in June 2017 and Council advised the business owner it would not be extended because of guidelines around competitive processes and equity created by the NSW Government.
The business however continued to operate on a month-to-month basis on a temporary lease arrangement with the approval of Council.
Council’s recent decision to terminate the lease came after the lack of competitive processes and equity issues were flagged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
“Council has been extremely generous in its dealings with this business operator, not only giving him access to a prime location in Byron Bay’s CBD for six months rent free but tolerating a longer monthly tenure while it worked through a new business ‘start up’ incubator scheme,” Mr Gainger said.
Mr Gainger said Mr Young was fully aware of these arrangements and that staff have been open and transparent in all communication.
“The business owner knew the arrangements from Council were generous and I believe he was extremely grateful for the opportunity we gave him at that time,” he said.
“Byron Shire Council has a long-term view to helping start-ups and the electric bike hire company provided an insight into the potential of low rent, temporary spaces for innovative local businesses.
“Council has now developed a Business Incubation Program that will offer one-off 12-month leases to local entrepreneurs and it is time for Mr Young to move on and let the next local entrepreneur showcase their business proposal,” Mr Gainger said.
“It is most disappointing that Luke Young has chosen to be critical of the Council when it has gone out of its way to assist him over the past year,” he said.