After receiving the safety and security audit conducted by NSW Police in Byron Bay earlier this year, requested by Byron United, Byron United is calling on Byron Shire Council council to work with it on recommendations to ensure that the community is not placed at risk.

The findings of the audit were that there were a number of inadequacies in the CBD Audit area.

Key recommendations by the report included:

  • Better maintenance of areas in the CBD including the ‘Rapid Removal’ of graffiti and vandalism and removal of overgrown landscaping.
  • Improved street illumination by council in the central CBD and parks.
  • Improved illumination of business premises at night paying particular attention to underneath verandahs and at the back of businesses.
  • The improvement of main intersections in town which are heavily utilised by vehicular and pedestrian traffic which would minimize conflicts between the two.

Byron United president Ed Ahern said the report had been forwarded to all cCouncillors and council staff and that in light of the positive interaction between the group and council staff he was genuinely hopeful that together they could make some immediate and beneficial changes.

“This is something that requires the whole community to work together on to ensure that safety and security is a top priority,” Mr Ahern said.

The Beautiful Byron Committee has already been urging businesses to remove graffiti and the report gives further credence to the implementation of ‘Rapid Removal’.

Beautiful Byron Committee Member Sevegne Newton said: “We are urging all businesses to report all incidents of graffiti and vandalism to the police and then get rid of them.

“Tagging, stickers and vandalism create a sense of fear and it is everyone’s right to feel safe and welcome in our town.

“Our campaign is all about rejuvenating community pride and cohesion and business stepping forward to actively contribute to making a difference in town.”

The report said that ‘people will recognise areas that are well used and cared for and those that are not. Research shows that public areas displaying strong ownership cues are less likely to be improperly used than those that don’t’.

Other recommendations included a designated transit and safety area in town with the Railway Park area being cited.

Mr Ahern said: “Now that we have the results of the audit we will be actively applying for State Government funding for the installation of CCTV cameras.

“Mayor Jan Barham has said recently that these are not a priority.

“I can only hope in light of the findings she will reconsider and support the proposal to increase lighting in town along with CCTV cameras and a dedicated safety zone.”

The report also said there was an increased crime risk for late-night workers and at-risk car park customers and that this could be reduced with improved lighting.

Of most interest to Beautiful Byron Committee member Paul Prior was the report’s findings of  ‘concealment and entrapment opportunities in our public parks’ with particular mention being made of Railway Park and Apex Park.

The report recommended clear sightlines and the removal over overgrown vegetation as predatory offenders, particularly rapists, seek pockets and enclosure created by vegetation and landscaping.

Paul said: “I am in Railway Park on a weekly basis, cleaning and planting and I am extremely concerned by the overhanging branches of the native hibiscus.

“It has now not just been identified as a public liability issue but as an entrapment area.

“Young people are often reading books at the back of the park and there is a children’s playground nearby and this needs to be a safe area for everyone to enjoy and it quite clearly isn’t.”

Mr Ahern commended the police on a ‘thorough, professional and enlightening report.