Byron surf school licences reinstated

VINDICATED: Jayme Edwards from Byron Bay Surf School pictured at The Wreck, Byron Bay.
VINDICATED: Jayme Edwards from Byron Bay Surf School pictured at The Wreck, Byron Bay. Patrick Gorbunovs

AN INDEPENDENT review into a controversial tendering process that saw two seasoned Byron Bay surf coaches lose their licence to operate, has found Byron Shire Council erred in granting the contracts to two new outside tenderers who offered three times the market rate.

As a result of the review handed down in December, and a subsequent vote by councillors to overturn the previous council's decision, Byron Bay surf school operator Jayme Edwards is back in business.

His licence was re-issued on December 21 after the council's decision was ratified by local marine authorities.

But Mr Edwards, who estimates he lost at least $75,000 during the six-month layoff, said he was considering seeking compensation from the council.

Mr Edwards said he hoped his ordeal would lead to the introduction of a standard fee for all surf school operators.

"I sensed from the start something was wrong with this tendering process and this independent review simply vindicates my long-held suspicion that an alternative and undisclosed methodology was used to assess the sub-licence fee, one which disadvantaged me and favoured the money offer over local knowledge, experience and excellent safety record," he said.

Steve Foreman, who also lost his licence, said the council had advised him his would also be re-issued.

The review, conducted by Sydney accountants Grant Thornton, found the council did not use "the most appropriate method for assessing and scoring the sub-licence fee criteria, considering the nature and circumstances of the tender."

Acting council general manager Ray Darney said the council had voted to offer an additional surf school licence in the wake of the independent review and he expected the council would also review its tendering process.

Topics:  byron shire council surf schools

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