Extraordinary meeting to decide on World Surf League event
Update, 2.25pm: Ballina Shire Council has called an extraordinary meeting to discuss the World Surf League's plan to hold an event in Lennox Head.
General manager Paul Hickey said the meeting would be held at 4pm on Wednesday.
The aim will be to clarify what is proposed for the WSL event and whether the council supports it.
Mr Hickey said the council and councillors had received positive and negative feedback about the WSL proposal.
Cr Keith Williams said the proposal was a major event that needed "careful consideration".
"I understand the Lennox event is a one off replacement of Bells Beach due to the potential disruption caused by state borders at the moment," he said.
"Assisting the world's premier surf competition in this way is not unreasonable. It could also be fun.
"However, residents have already raised major concerns that need to be addressed."
He said some of these concerns related to COVID, crowd numbers, the impact on the Lennox headland, traffic and parking.
"We must insist on a clear and agreed process to ensure the safety of our community and environment is paramount before any commitment is given," Cr Williams said.
The extraordinary meeting will be held at the council chambers and will be livestreamed from the council's website.
Original story: A decision will be made in the next 24 hours as to whether a World Surf League event can be held at Lennox Head over Easter.
Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright confirmed WSL boss Andrew Stark contacted him about the possibility last week.
"He explained their circumstances and how they weren't able to have any events last year because of COVID," Cr Wright said.
"Now they're looking at Australia … competitors and managers are flying into Sydney in March to quarantine and then they've asked about having an event at Lennox Head in April.
"Councillors were told about it, we called a meeting, he (Stark) brought his team and we had senior staff on hand.
"Normally these things take six months to plan, but we have four days.
"We need to think about native title, threatened species, traffic … we've given the WSL a list of people to contact to see what they think of it, the Chamber of Commerce, the residents' association, Le-Ba (Lennox Ballina Boardriders).
"Le-Ba is 100 per cent behind it, they would get offered wildcards."
The mayor said he believed the WSL event could inject between $8 million and $10 million into the shire's economy.
He admitted the timing of the event ‒ over the Easter break ‒ could be difficult, but organisers were determined to make it work.
"We talked about Pat Morton, they know how good it would look (to film)," Cr Wright said.
"There's an onsite meeting today … the WSL need to know by Wednesday so if it can't be done at Lennox, they can start looking elsewhere.
"We can see the benefits.
"We have so many good junior surfers here and just think how great it would be to watch the best of the best in their own backyard."
A spokesman from the WSL said they were working closely with governments and having "positive conversations regarding the locations for the upcoming Australian leg of the Championship Tour (CT)".
"We are currently discussing multiple options to be best prepared to get the CT back on and running," he said.
"We will share more information in the near future."