Sevegne Newton
Sevegne Newton

Trip inspires new ideas for Byron

No one could ever accuse Byron United president Sevegne Newton of lacking enthusiasm or get-up-and-go.

After a month-long European holiday during which she visited many tourist hot-spots, the Byron Bay businesswoman has come back fired up with ideas that she sees can be applied to her own town to make it an even better place in which to live and visit.

Sevegne plans to float the ideas with her own group first and then hopefully engage Byron Council and the wider community in the discussion.

She knows that any innovation will cost money, which is why the introduction of a bed tax is on the top of her list – followed by a charge to use public toilets in the town.

Money from both sources, she said, could be used to provide much-needed infrastructure including state-of-the-art public toilets, improved lighting in parks and public areas and well-maintained garden beds and parks.

Said Sevegne: “It cost one Euro to use the public toilets at Milan railway station. They were state-of-the-art and spotless and there was not one piece of graffiti.

“It’s the same all over Europe.

“If our issue here is public toilets, why don’t we create the infrastructure and charge to use it?

“We would also strongly support a bed tax to help pay for infrastructure.

“That’s how you turn things around.

“If it keeps these places looking good, then I am happy to pay a bed tax.”

‘Pop-up’ bollards in Nice in France also caught Sevegne’s eye.

They were used, she said, to block off streets at certain times for outdoor dining and other events.

The devices would be perfect to block traffic from entering the beach end of Jonson Street on selected evenings so the road space could be turned into an outdoor dining area.

Sevegne said that at the end of the night, the bollards would go back into the ground and there would be no need for any other physical barriers to be placed and then removed from the roadway.

“The town needs some colour and local flavour,” she said.

“That could happen with people milling about and dining in the middle of the street.

“There is no need to have that road open in the evening.”

Sevegne said the ‘pop-up’ bollards could also be utilised for occasions such as New Year’s Eve, and maybe for staging the farmers market in the middle of town.

Byron Bay’s traffic problems are well-documented, but really nothing like some of the European tourist hot-spots.

At one of those spots, Portofino in Italy, in a bid to cut traffic going into the town, small electric buses are used to move tourists the eight kilometres between Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure.

There is a bus every 10 minutes and the cost of the trip is one Euro.

Take a taxi, said Sevegne, and it costs $55.

“The cost of using the bus is kept down to encourage people to use them,” she said.

By being innovative, said Sevegne, it was fascinating to see how small tourist towns in Europe retained their integrity and their culture and not become over-commercialised.

“There are small places which have traditional communities who manage to combine tourism with a thriving local community,” she said.

“It’s all about how you handle it. That’s why tourism management is important in Byron Bay.”

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