It comes after the Port News reported that a number of local young people believed the council were not paying attention to youth issues, by putting discussions of lighting at the Town Beach skate park on the back-burner.
But Cr Besseling argued councillors had been given an insufficient amount of time to respond to emails, and he had personally replied to the email of concerned resident, Beau Nestor.
“I find it unusual that skaters say council don’t care when they’re skating on a $800,000 skate park,” he said.
“Council has limited access to funding and despite this fact, was successful in accessing $400,000 of federal funding and matched that with $400,000 of local ratepayers money, to build a state-of-the-art skate park in Port Macquarie.”
He said the skate park was ample proof that council did in fact listen to the youth, by utilising a professional to create the best possible facility.
Cr Besseling said council were open to communicate with all members of the community.
Before any open discussion could occur he would need to consult with council’s Crime Prevention Officer Christine Bannister and seek further advice on the safety issues lighting the park would present, he said.
“The advice is that it would create a security issue down there,” Cr Besseling said. “I am happy to revisit that advice and gather further information.”
Tim Bishop, host of 2WAYFM’s Time to Talk Show, has for weeks been engaging with local youth and council representatives to bring light to the issue.
He said Cr Besseling’s failure to back the youth of Port Macquarie by supporting the light installation was an “embarrassing disgrace”.
Mr Bishop said Mr Besseling had failed at the opportunity to “prove himself as a progressive leader at a local level”.
“We have more than a thousand young people actually engaging in democracy at a local level, crying out for lights and signing petitions,” Mr Bishop said.
“Yet their Mayor, a man who is supposed to represent their views the most, hasn’t even offered to sit with them to hear what they have to say.”
Mr Bishop also challenged council’s suggestion that lighting would be inappropriate as a crime prevention strategy, urging them to provide evidence to support their claims.
“He says lights will attract anti-social behaviour yet my research of other lit skate parks across the country suggests lighting is highly successful,” Mr Bishop said.
Cr Besseling said it was unfortunate that anyone could consider the skate park an embarrassing failure.
Everyone has an opportunity to put forward what they think should form the priority projects for council via the consultation process currently underway www.pmhclistening.com.au /hastingshorizons and I would encourage Mr Bishop to participate.