Port Macquarie's Food for Less site becoming a security issue

Real concerns: Security issues have been raised at the former Food For Less site on the William and Short streets corner. Pic: Ivan Sajko
Real concerns: Security issues have been raised at the former Food For Less site on the William and Short streets corner. Pic: Ivan Sajko

Should it stay, or should it go? Vote in our poll at the end of this story.

It has been described as an eyesore and a blot on the entrance to Port Macquarie’s CBD.

The former Food for Less site on the corner of Short and William streets has been vacant since April 5, 2012.

Targeted by graffiti in the last few months, there have been a number of deliberately lit fires reported at the site, which is owned by Woolworths.

Following the most recent fire event – on Sunday July 2 – Fire and Rescue NSW, Port Macquarie station officer Derek Alford confirmed the brigade has received two call outs to the site in the last six weeks.

“Both of those call outs was to extinguish mattresses that had been set alight,” he said.

“Unfortunately, boarding up the building is clearly not a deterrent to arsonists or squatters.

“Until the building is made more secure or demolished, it will remain the same target.

“People are simply removing the plywood to gain access to the building.”

On fire: Sunday night's fire at the former Food for Less site in Port Macquarie. Pic: Ben Burley

On fire: Sunday night's fire at the former Food for Less site in Port Macquarie. Pic: Ben Burley

A Woolworths spokesperson said they are currently investigating the latest incident at the site and confirmed the future use of the site.

“We are committed to ensuring the premises on William Street is safe and secure,” the spokesperson said.

“Woolworths remains committed to bringing a new retail shopping experience to Port Macquarie and look forward to engaging with the new mayor around the future of the site following the upcoming election.”

Port Macquarie police acting inspector Chris Hardwick said police urged members of the public to contact them if they see people loitering around the site.

“Contact the police immediately. We have move on powers to ensure the site is secured as best as it can,” he said.

“We don’t want to see a major incident at the site.”

On fire: Sunday night's fire at the former Food for Less site in Port Macquarie. Pic: Ben Burley

On fire: Sunday night's fire at the former Food for Less site in Port Macquarie. Pic: Ben Burley

 Act Insp Hardwick confirmed police had been called to the two most recent fires at the Food for Less site.

Meanwhile, an online petition calling on Woolworths to do ‘something’ with the site has attracted 559 signatures.

The petition was instigated by Gary Cuttell.

“The people of Port Macquarie have had to put up with the derelict Food for Less building in the middle of our town for five years now and it's time Woolworths did something about it,” Mr Cuttell said on the change.org site.

“Port Macquarie has a high dependence on tourism and having a derelict building in our CBD is not encouraging visitors to our beautiful town.

“Please remove this eyesore.”

Once complete, the petition will be delivered to, managing director and CEO of Woolworths Ltd, Brad Banducci.