Ian Spiers, Kingscliff
After 20 years of bureaucratic mismanagement and poor decision-making, the voice of the people has finally been heard.
The decision by the JRPP this week to recommend refusal of the Tweed Byron Police Command to be located on beachfront land at Kingscliff has at last removed all but one barrier to ensuring that the facility will be built ASAP in a location closer, if not adjacent, to the Pacific Highway.
The preferred location of this project has always been on the southeastern corner of the Chinderah roundabout between the golf course and the highway. In fact it almost happened in 1992 when police minister Garry West directed his chief of staff to make it happen. Then there was an unexpected change of government. The rest is history.
At the moment the site is owned and occupied by the RTA/RMS as a temporary depot, and is still available at no cost to the people of NSW.
This site is located in the heart of the main artery linking the Gold Coast and northern NSW and will give the outlying areas of the Tweed Region much improved response times 24/7 to all areas of the shire. It will facilitate a mobile hub for general duties, highway patrol and detectives, together with the many support units attached to it. It means that people being subjected to a domestic terror situation or other violent incidents at Uki, Tyalgum, Pottsville, Tweed Heads or Bilambil will at last have an urgent response with adequate ‘backup’ for their situation. It means that the centralisation of mobile units will also enable the likes of Murwillumbah Police Station to remain open as a shopfront police station for much longer hours. It will provide the potential for a shopfront police station to be located at Tweed CBD location like Wharf Street, and another at Pottsville or Hastings Point. These offices will all be supported by the mobile network of police vehicles, much larger than that available at the moment. This can all be achieved with existing staffing resources.
The Chinderah site has been criticised by some as being ‘flood prone’. Isn’t almost every location in this shire flood prone – or affected by flood? The concept originally drafted and recommended in 1992 for Chinderah was for the construction of a high-set building, serviced by elevated access and exit roads to the roundabout. This would enable a large number of car-parking spaces beneath and around the building. There are almost ten acres of land there going to waste and waiting to be used for a practical purpose such as this.
It might be noted that BP Australia, who now operate one of the largest highway service facilities of its type in Australia, chose the adjacent corner of the Chinderah roundabout for its operation. The BP service centre is a low-set facility and flood proneness certainly didn’t prevent its development.
This is not the time to continue criticism of the police department or the state government for their past inactions. It is time to urge them to act swiftly to acquire the best-located land, in the most suitable position for the command centre, which includes a substantial police station facility.
The Cudgen Road/Coast Road intersection has also been much supported by some for the facility. I would be comfortable if went here; however, when the road floods along the Coast Road when approaching Chinderah, that road becomes impassable and would require work and cost to raise it. Those who have lived in this area for long enough know that this is fact.
Should other emergency services such as ambulance, fire, SES and other government agencies wish to locate to the Chinderah site in the future, the land will have been set aside for such future purposes. Not to mention the RTA, Firearms Registry, other NSW government departments like Fisheries, Departments of Agriculture, and the list goes on.
Tweed Shire Council was also very instrumental in convincing the JRPP that Kingscliff was not an appropriate site for the command-centre project.
I am a retired police officer and, like everyone who has been involved in the recent condemnation of the Kingscliff project, we support our local police 100 per cent. What we want for them, and the people of northern NSW is a much better workplace and community support facility.
I now appeal to the people of this shire to support the urgent acquisition and development of Chinderah so we can look forward to many decades of a much-improved police and public service.