Off & Running: Shire Mayoral Campaigns
Affordable housing to be campaign cornerstone for Greens, Labor
Mayor Simon Richardson (Greens) has announced his intention to run again for the top job, and promised that affordable housing will be a cornerstone of the campaign.
It’s also a topic that will be a key issue for Cr Paul Spooner, who told The Echo that he also intends to stand for mayor and will be announcing a Labor Party team of councillors shortly.
The Echo asked via email if conservative Cr Sol Ibrahim has plans to run again for mayor, but has not received a reply.
In Cr Richardson’s press release, he referred to Nicqui Yazdi, a longtime resident and youth worker, who may have to move from the Shire owing to high rents and unaffordability.
She confirmed with The Echo that after 18 years of renting she considered the options to be ‘absolute dumps which were going for $550 a week.’
‘That’s hundreds more than I can afford.’ The mayor said in his press release that he has been working hard at addressing the issue, and his main priorities ‘will be to ensure that the valuable contributions of long-term residents such as Ms Yazdi are not lost to the Shire because of a lack of suitable housing.’
‘At threat is the very thread of what makes our Byron Shire community so special – the diversity of our residents and the enormous contribution they make to our community.
‘Holiday letting, particularly in Byron Bay itself, is a contributing factor. Negative gearing has fuelled a growing number of absent property owners who effectively remove their stock from the residential letting market.’
The mayor also took aim at the ‘largely anti-community sentiment of the notorious “gang of five” councillors,’ who have mostly controlled the chamber throughout the term.
He said, ‘The Greens have managed to champion through a number of major affordable housing initiatives during this current term of Council – while saying no to others where the community has expressed major, valid concerns.’
‘One of the most popular has been the waiving of certain fees on the construction of granny flats,’ says mayor Richardson.
‘This can result in savings of around $15,000 to $30,000 and we’ve already seen several hundred granny flats constructed as a result – far more than in neighbouring shires.
‘The challenge will be maintaining this arrangement over the longer term. The Greens are committed to making it a permanent feature in Byron Shire, whereas other less socially conscious, more purely profit-motivated councillors would love to do away with it next time the policy’s reviewed.
‘Another big achievement has been the creation of a special LEP for the Byron Arts and Industry Estate.
‘A NSW first, the LEP enables creatives to now live where they work, whereas previously this was unlawful.’
Cr Spooner has claimed that in contrast to the Greens, a Labor team would ‘ensure affordable housing is supported and encouraged in council and not just used as a campaign slogan.’