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CVC tangles with DoH over razor wire

Geoff Helisma|

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has decided it will take on the Department of Education’s threat to pursue the matter – of removing the razor wire atop the fence between CVC’s new Rushforth Road works depot and South Grafton High School – through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

On the casting vote of the mayor, Jim Simmons (Cr Jason Kingsley was absent), councillors resolved to “invite the neighbouring school property owner to resolve their concerns by appearance at the … tribunal at their application, or resolve by negotiation on a cost to them or [on a] cost-sharing basis”.

Councillors also resolved to “fund any costs associated with the direction of the tribunal from the light fleet reserve”.

Councillors Simmons, Baker, Williamson and Lysaught voted in favour of the final decision; councillors Ellem, Clancy, Novak and Toms, who supported the lost motion put by Cr Greg Clancy, were opposed.

Staff, in their recommendation, had estimated it would cost $34,818 (plus GST) to remove the wire and “construct a new fence [inside the existing fence] complete with razor wire … parallel to the boundary fence [and] fund the works … from the light fleet reserve (50%) and the heavy plant replacement reserve (50%)”.

General manager Ashley Lindsay said CVC had put the razor wire on top of the existing fence when it built the depot.

Councillor Clancy moved a motion to, instead, remove the wire and install one or more security cameras and motion sensor security lights near the fence, with funding sourced from the light vehicle reserve.

Arguing in favour of his motion, Cr Clancy said he didn’t support spending $34,818 on a new fence.

“I suspect [cameras and sensors] will be cheaper … [and] adequate” to protect CVC’s assets and staff’s cars, he said.

Councillor Andrew Baker led the argument against Cr Clancy’s motion.

“The installation of security cameras and motion lights is presumed by Cr Clancy to not cost more than [$34,818], but his motion does not tell us what type of monitoring – active or none at all, so we’ll simply have a record of event afterwards,” he said.

“…The type of fence there now … is there for a good reason.”

Councillor Karen Toms said Cr Clancy’s motion was a “good way of resolving a problem and I’m sure it will not cost more”.

Mayor Simmons said he had “reluctantly” changed his mind, regarding having a “fence within a fence”, as recommended by staff.

“I’m concerned about the security there and, while there is other internal fencing, there is a lot of money involved in the assets on that site,” he said.

“There’s also the safety aspect for CVC officers working there at night when they go to access their cars.

“I’m satisfied in considering the issue …

[and]

I am prepared to vote against the motion and support the officer’s recommendation.”

Councillor Peter Ellem said he “respected” the mayor’s view, “but a fence within a fence doesn’t make sense”.

All up, this item took up an hour of CVC’s meeting time and, when all was said and done, Cr Baker’s foreshadowed motion won the day, primarily based on his argument that some councillors had “lost sight” of resolving the issue through “negotiation”.

“The school say they have concerns,” he said. “The neighbours are the ones who need to make the application to the tribunal if negotiations fail, or as they said, ‘go to tribunal without further notice’.

“They said that, not us.

“If that can be interpreted as arrogance, well, so be it.

“…Most issues are resolved by negotiations.”

Councillor Baker said it was up to the school (DoH) to take it to the tribunal if they wish to.

“I don’t believe it will get to that,” he said.

“If we can’t [resolve] it by negotiation … the tribunal will.

“This is how the grown-ups work in the real world.”

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