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Council says no to CCTV donation

Clarence Valley Council has decided against contributing $50,000 towards closed circuit television (CCTV) in Grafton. The donation would have complemented a $200,000 grant obtained through the Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan under the Safer Communities Program. Mayor Jim Simmons was alone in his support for donating the funds to the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, with several councillors expressing disapproval at the Chamber’s alleged lack of willingness to share information or involve council in the CCTV program. Cr Andrew Baker led the argument against the donation, saying that he was “left cool” by the Chamber’s response to a request by council for further information about the CCTV rollout. “Essentially it appears that we’re going to not be included in any part of this except handing over the dough,” Cr Baker said. Cr Jason Kingsley said in addition to council being left out of the funding application process by the Chamber, he didn’t support the donation because of the Chamber’s opposition to a Special Rate Variation. “I’m conscious of small business and I’m a strong advocate for small business, but I’m also conscious of the Chamber and their position on our financial position, and their recommendations a couple of months ago in regards to a response to our Special Rate Variation application,” he said. Cr Ellem said the chamber’s reluctance to share information wasn’t a good basis for any type of partnership, and he wasn’t supportive of providing funds at this point. Cr Ellem said he may support expansion of the network in the future. Cr Clancy said he believed expansion of the network as previously mapped was unjustified. “The original grant that was applied for obviously was based on covering the areas of most need … but just having CCTV in as many places as possible raises a whole range of issues, particularly privacy,” he said.