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Education department demands razor wire’s removal

Geoff Helisma|

The NSW Department of Education (DoE) has threatened to take legal action against Clarence Valley Council (CVC) if the razor wire is not removed from the fence between the new Rushforth Road works depot and South Grafton High School.

“Council has received a notice from NSW Education which is served under the provision of the Dividing Fences Act 1991 (NSW),” the report to yesterday’s CVC meeting stated.

“The notice … requires Council to restore the fence to its pre-existing condition at its own cost and advises that NSW Education may commence proceedings in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal without further notice should the works not be undertaken.

“Council has responded to this notice requesting that no action be taken until Council has considered the matter at its February 2020 meeting.”

The issue has been simmering since school resumed after the 2017/18 holiday season.

And, despite both parties declaring they were consulting with each other about the matter, the DoE has resorted to threatening legal action following a unanimous decision taken by councillors last year.

Councillors scrapped a proposal to “remove [the] razor wire on [the] adjoining fence … and erect new security fencing parallel to existing” when considered as a General Fund variation in September 2019.

Councillors had decided at the August 2019 meeting, to “defer the proposed General Fund variation, as set out in the report totalling $37,400, to the September” round of CVC meetings, “in order to permit a site inspection prior to the meeting”.

Councillor Karen Toms had successfully argued to defer the fund variation at the August CVC meeting.

“This is a lot of money; we’re trying to be frugal and in my opinion … it is ridiculous to build another fence,” she said at the time.

At the September 2019 meeting, councillors decided to “endorse the proposed General Fund variation with the exception of item 821 [remove razor wire]”, without debate on the matter.

At yesterday’s CVC meeting (after the Independent’s print deadline) staff recommended: “Remove the razor wire atop the boundary fence between South Grafton High School and its Rushforth Road Works Depot.

“2. Construct a new fence complete with razor wire top parallel to the boundary fence.

“3. Fund the works to the sum of $34,818 (ex GST), that includes a 10% contingency, from the light fleet reserve (50%) and the heavy plant replacement reserve (50%).”

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