Changes sought on how surf school licences are allocated

BYRON Bay-based surf school operators who come to Ballina and Lennox Head to run learn-to-surf classes should be made to contribute to the shire's economy, say Ballina Shire councillors.

The council is working through the allocation of sought-after surf school licences. The controversial tender process is likely to be abandoned in favour of a set fee, after a number of long-term operators missed out on a licence last year.

Terry Hannon from Kool Katz Learn to Surf School at Byron Bay said it was a good idea.

"The tender system has not worked," he said. "It creates fear ... a set fee for successful operators is the way to go."

Managing director of Mojosurf at Byron Bay, Nathan Folkes, said he was concerned about the long-term future of the industry.

"At the moment it's difficult to plan beyond three to five years," he said.

"We are the largest surf school operator in Australia. We have a healthy business and we want to invest in it, but at the moment it would be kind of crazy to do that.

"We need to all work collaboratively to ensure that this industry is healthy."

Cr Sharon Cadwallader said she was happy to support surf school operators but said that they, in turn, should support the local economy.

"It would be good if we could encourage operators to spend some money in our shire," she said.

Mayor David Wright agreed, and said he would "love" to see the surf school operators and their customers spending money in town.

Changes to the allocation of surf school licences will be placed on public exhibition, and feedback will be sought from operators.

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