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Voters pick Richardson in top job

HAPPY VOTER: Joseph Kennard of Suffolk Park exercises his democratic right at Byron Bay Public School on Saturday.
HAPPY VOTER: Joseph Kennard of Suffolk Park exercises his democratic right at Byron Bay Public School on Saturday. Digby Hildreth

Byron Shire MayorSimon Richardson That is part of the review process. We will get the draft LEP out there and get responses

BYRON SHIRE has a new mayor: the Greens' Simon Richardson was named for the position on Monday, winning with a majority of 858 over Diane Woods.

Cr Woods said she believed the margin was "the closest in 20 years", but Cr Richardson said he was "stoked" at the performance of his party.

At the time of going to press the exact make-up of the new council was unknown, with final data being input and a

number of what one pundit described as "interesting anomalies" in voting patterns.

What is certain is that the Greens will have Rose Wanchap and Duncan Dey as councillors, with the possibility of Jim Beatson also joining them in chambers.

Cr Woods' number two, Chris Cubis, is also a certainty, and on Tuesday she was confident that Alan Hunter would also become a councillor.

The two surprises of the election were the surge into prominence of Sol Ibrahim, something of an unknown before campaigning began, and the poor showing by mayoral candidate Basil Cameron.

Mr Ibrahim and his Vision in Action team took votes off the Greens and Cr Cameron's group Our Sustainable Future - in what must have been a hugely disappointing result for the incumbent councillor.

Predictably, Cr Woods performed strongly on her "home turf" areas north of the Shire but accepted her runner-up status in the mayoral race philosophically,

"My team did marvellously well," she said "I'm very happy with how we performed."

The result sent a message, she said, "and that is that people were very disillusioned with the performance of the Greens in the last term of council and wanted a change".

"The Greens are on notice. They need to perform now."

Cr Woods said top of her agenda for the new term would be getting a two-year moratorium on unapproved developments and introducing a review of the draft Local Environment Plan which is due to go on public exhibition on September 24.

At a meeting of 120 landholders in Bangalow on the Thursday before polling day, candidates from all parties agreed to support such a review - though Cr Richardson was virtually shouted down when he tried to explain that the public exhibition process constituted a review.

But he was sticking to his guns this week, saying he would not support any return of the draft to council until after the 60-day public exhibition.

"That is part of the review process. We will get it out there and get responses."

Council would "ground-truth" the draft and if there was anything "wrong" in it "clearly we are not going to pass it".

Cr Richardson said sorting out the events policy and markets policy would be other priorities for the incoming council, which has its first meeting on September 27.

He was also keen to begin bridge-building with council staff, to put an end to the antagonism of recent years.


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