Ballina shopkeepers fear council clean-up
By DAWN COHEN
RON Ball's young grandchildren are still traumatised after witnessing one drug addict slash another with a knife a month ago.
It was a quiet Saturday afternoon just outside Heather and Ron Ball's hairdressing shop, not in Sydney but in Wigmore Arcade, Ballina.
Violence in the Wigmore Arcade has increased since the back area has become a hangout for drug users, according to the hairdressers.
They fear the situation will worsen with a Ballina Shire Council decision to terminate contract cleaners and have council cleaners take over.
"The drug addicts are using needles in the toilets," said Heather Ball, who has worked in the arcade for 37 years.
"The contract cleaners clean twice a day and more if we call them.
"When council cleaned the toilets 10 years ago, they came in once a day and basically hosed the floors."
The Balls believe if the contract cleaners go, the security problem will escalate.
Thirteen Wigmore Arcade businesses signed a letter to council in September explaining the problem, according to Ms Ball, but they have had no response.
Council general manager Stuart McPherson said yesterday he guaranteed the frequency and flexibility of the cleaning would be maintained.
Mayor Phil Silver could not recall seeing the letter and pre- ferred not to comment.