Lismore CBD security cuts
SAFETY on the streets of Lismore is being jeopardised by a sharp reduction in council funding for security patrols in the CBD, local businesspeople warn.
However, Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has defended the decision, saying the reduction had no impact on safety.
The council voted to pull $30,000 from the patrols funding several weeks ago, reducing them from five days a week to three.
The Lismore Chamber of Commerce president, Michael Haddin, condemned the move as 'penny-pinching', and said the council was 'cutting back on too many of the facilities that a city should have'.
Police statistics for street crime in Lismore had shown a noticeable reduction in the years since the patrols had been operating, Chamber vice president Brenton Shalders said.
He was 'very surprised' by the decision and said it 'didn't sit right with everything else the council was trying to achieve'.
“My view is that if we are seeing a reduction in crime in the CBD, and visitor perception of the city is improving as a result, why change it?”
Mr Shalders said the patrols had increased the quality of life for the people of Lismore.
“It's a service that has many hats,” he said, “including being able to help out when someone is in trouble with some medical condition.
“Crime in the CBD is a matter of real concern and of all the things that the council could save money on, this is the most surprising.”
A chamber of commerce survey showed that nearly 70 per cent of its members felt safer with the security patrols and feared the cuts would hurt shopping.
The chamber had met police and requested an increased presence in the CBD, he said.
Cr Dowell said the council had made a 'budgetary decision' to pull the patrols, but guards remained in place at night, when most anti-social behaviour happened, and at the bus interchange near Trinity College.
“Council has had no feedback about an increase in anti-social behaviour or shoplifting since those patrols ceased,” she said.