Park Beach resident Jenny Grant was one resident who spoke at last night's meeting.
Park Beach resident Jenny Grant was one resident who spoke at last night's meeting. Trevor Veale

Park Beach meeting wants action

PARK Beach residents have vented their collective frustration at  crime and trouble in their neighbourhood at a large public gathering. 

Yet the real resolve to come out of last night’s packed meeting was a mutual appreciation for the beachside suburb and strategies to see it realise its potential through change. 

Possibly the biggest applause on the night was reserved for the suggestion that misguided youth in the area need to hold a sense of pride in their community.

How to achieve that dominated the two-hour discussion at the Park Beach Bowling Club, as almost 200 residents spoke publicly about the problems that forced the community to come together.

Alcohol was highlighted as the key underlining factor.

Although chair of the meeting Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said: “this is not meant to be a bash fest of pubs and clubs”.

Focussing on workable solutions, residents and community leaders called for:

* Improved street lighting

* Clearing of beachside undergrowth

* Greater police patrols

*Beach party and bonfire crackdowns  

* Neighbourhood watch groups

* Closed circuit security 

* Volunteer graffiti buster squads

* The closing of alleyways

* Tougher restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol

* Legal graffiti walls and greater investment in the area. 

Several moteliers said it’s imperative that something is done, given Park Beach is the face of Coffs Harbour to many visitors and tourists.

THE POLITICS

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser pointed to the Coalition’s election plans to introduce a 21st Century Neighbourhood Watch Program.

This commitment will require every Police Local Area Command to have a neighbourhood watch group.

“Together we need to react collectively to crime, it needs a joint approach involving you the residents, council, police and government,” Mr Fraser said. 

THE POLICE

Coffs Clarence Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay was called to answer questions over police numbers and  response times.

“As far as police numbers go that is something for politicians to decide, but I can say at the moment we have a 100 per cent police allocation, when it comes to authorised officers,” Det. Inspt. Lindsay said. 

Answering a question on graffiti he said the police kept a database of “tags” and used sources in the community to catch and prosecute young aerosol offenders.  

THE COUNCIL

Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades spoke of council’s ongoing commitment to Park Beach, including plans to invest $200,000 in public amenities.

This funding has been made available through residual developer contributions and State park funds.

Cr Rhoades also mentioned a council fund, which will combat law and order issues such as the closing off trouble alleyways and laneways.

“We all need to work together here with police the key is don’t think someone else has reported crime, we need to sit back, observe and ring police,” Cr Rhoades said.

THE PROOF

Park Beach business owners, accommodation providers, residents and taxi drivers gave first hand accounts of alcohol-related crime.   

One store owner said he rang police almost daily.

He told how businesses in the area compile databases of young offenders from closed circuit security vision.

Real estate agencies also came under fire, from several residents, “for not finding the best possible tenants for rentals.”

While landlords spoke out saying they would not improve their investments because of vandalism and the demographic. 

Many questions were also asked about the parental supervision of young offenders in the Park Beach area.

While countless personal stories and accounts of public drunkenness, graffiti, late night brawls, break and enters and needless vandalism were raised.

One strong point that came from the floor was that the problems Park Beach is facing are endemic across Australia.

The only difference, it was said, is that this suburb is prepared to take action. 



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