No joy: Summerland Surf School owners, Simon and Lorraine Freeden, are upset and disappointed at Ballina Shire Council over its decision not to extend their surfing licence.
No joy: Summerland Surf School owners, Simon and Lorraine Freeden, are upset and disappointed at Ballina Shire Council over its decision not to extend their surfing licence. Jerad Williams

Ballina surf schools wiped-out

FOR more than a decade Simon and Lorraine Freeden and Martine and Terry Borrack have had a dream job – riding the waves of Lennox Head and Ballina and sharing their love of surfing with others.

However, it now seems likely that by the end of next month the dream will be over.

Despite having long-established surf schools in Ballina Shire – 13 years for the Freedens’ Summerland Surf School and 11 years for the Borracks’ KoolKatz – the families were dropped by Ballina Shire Council in this year’s round of tenders for surf school licences.

Ballina councillors last week put up a plan that might let the two families keep their licences, but only if the three winning tenders accept increased competition in return for lower licence fees.

If even one rejects the plan, the families will lose licences – and their right to teach surfing at Ballina Shire’s beaches.

Councillor Jeff Johnson questioned the fairness of the tender process, noting it had come down to a question of how much money tenderers offered to pay.

Councillors at last week’s meeting heard at least one of the three winning schools was willing to accept the offer. It was not known what the other two would make of it.

Winning tender Cheyne Horan refused to discuss the issue, saying ‘we just want to be low-key’.

The Freedens said they could still operate at Evans Head, but the bulk of their business had come from Ballina.

The Borracks only had a licence in Ballina Shire and would lose their business if the other schools rejected the council’s offer.

“We are extremely disappointed in the council’s processes,” Mrs Borrack said. “Last Thursday’s outcome was a second missed opportunity to set wrongs right with this tender process.

“Open spaces and reserves manager Jillian Pratten told The Star before the tender that ‘it was important that the Shire has reputable and professional surf schools’.

“We have 20 years of incident and litigation free surf school operations, 11 years in Ballina. We have run more classes on Ballina beaches than any other school or instructor involved,” Mrs Borrack said.

“We ticked all the required boxes. We missed out because this decision came down to the three highest bidding tenders.

“Our whole family is devastated. Our three kids are old enough to understand the implications.

Their father may have to move interstate to start all over again as a result of this.

“We’re just hopeful that in the spirit of surfing and Christmas the winning tenderers will agree to council’s request.”


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