ACCUSATIONS: Bullying, mishandled funds and no transparency
A WAR of words has erupted over the Butler Street Markets site with NSW MLC Catherine Cusack using parliamentary privilege to accuse Byron Community Centre Management of the misuse of public funds, a lack of transparency and and bullying.
CEO of the Byron Community Centre Paul Spooner has hit back saying, "It's reprehensible of Ms Cusack to use parliamentary privilege to make miss-timed and ill-informed accusations,"
"She does a disservice to our community, our volunteers and this community organisation."
Ms Cusack's wide ranging attack on Mr Spooner and Byron Community Centre President Jason Arthurton comes amid recent discussions over a proposed temporary move of the markets to the beach front while the state government built a bus transit station on the site.
The site has since been deemed unfit for purpose and the markets will remain at Butler Street.
But Ms Cusack persisted, taking a swipe at Byron Shire Council and Paul Spooner over the tender process and the payment of fees saying: "A very ugly issue has emerged from this fiasco. Byron Shire Council has contracted Byron Community Centre to manage the markets in a process that lacks transparency: The tender criteria are not public. The CEO of Byron Community Centre is Paul Spooner, a Byron councillor and former Labor candidate for Ballina.
"What angers me is that revenues from Butler Street Reserve should be expended on rehabilitating the drains polluting the nature reserve and Belongil Creek, but under this cute arrangement the income is going into Paul Spooner's pocket.
She also accused Mr Spooner of bullying, "a representative of Rainbow Markets, Ian Brown, who opposed the plan to relocate the markets."
Cr Spooner said Ms Cusack's accusations amount to nothing more than a series of, "incorrect statements made without bothering to verify them with the Byron Community Centre- a not for profit community centre."
"Her implication there was some sort of shady deal done over awarding the markets tender to the Community Centre are completely wrong," Mr Spooner said.
"As a councillor I abstain from voting on any matters pertaining to the markets licence on the site."
Mr Spooner emphatically rejected Ms Cusack's claims of bullying.
"A stall holder has been suspended for three months after clear breaches of the Byron Market's Code of Conduct including verified instances of bullying, harassment and intimidation," he said.
"It was not an arbitrary suspension, this person had a right of reply and review of the decision."
Mr Spooner said the Byron Community Centre would welcome Ms Cusack making her claims outside Parliament.
"Better still Ms Cusack should come to the Community Centre to see first hand the vital work we do," he said.