Measures will be put in place to crack down on graffiti across the local government area.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council adopted a range of actions at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday (January 25).
Mayor Peta Pinson said graffiti had escalated over the past six months. She spoke about the council's responsibility to take action.
"It is also my belief that in order for council to make any inroads as far as stamping out graffiti and removing it, we need to collectively rely on stakeholders, volunteers and also our community at large," Cr Pinson said.
She said the council needed to send a strong message and let the perpetrators know they were being watched and information would be gathered, which would hold them to account via the NSW Police Force.
The council will apply for grants to install CCTV cameras strategically in the Town Square and Town Green.
Council funds will be made available for monetary rewards to reduce the impact of graffiti and vandalism of council property.
A draft Graffiti in Public Places Policy will be developed in consultation with community stakeholders.
The draft policy will include the offer of an up to $5000 reward for information leading to persons being identified as responsible for defacing and/or damaging council property.
Volunteers will be sought to join "Graffiti Busters" to help the council remove graffiti in an appropriate timeframe.
Deputy mayor Adam Roberts said it was going to take a whole of community approach to clean up this blight on the visual amenity of our towns and villages.
"This graffiti busting initiative is one that everyone in our community can and should get behind for the benefit of all of us in the long run," he said.
Council director Melissa Watkins, in response to a question from Cr Rachel Sheppard, said some of the actions were already underway.
A stakeholder meeting went ahead in late 2021 to discuss opportunities to address the graffiti issue. Another meeting is scheduled in mid-February.
Cr Lisa Intemann applauded the notion of a reward leading to the apprehension of offenders but she opposed the installation of CCTV cameras in public spaces.
She said it had not been found that CCTV significantly deterred crime or significantly led to apprehensions.
But Cr Josh Slade said CCTV cameras could only be a positive for this area.
Cr Sheppard raised concerns about the potential negative implications of a reward system.
She said this type of intervention potentially pitched parts of the community against each other, and unless there was a really clear rationale and argument in terms of effectiveness and results, she didn't know that was what they needed to be doing for our community right now.
Cr Sheppard said the other measures were fantastic and she was pleased to learn many of the activities were underway but she was very concerned about the unintended social impacts of a reward system on parts of our community.
The council has requested its CEO schedule an urgent meeting with Superintendent District Commander Shane Cribb, the mayor, deputy mayor, councillors and director of community, planning and environment to discuss increasing vigilance relating to acts of vandalism and graffiti.
It will write to stakeholders to request they take more proactive measures to identify and remove graffiti from their infrastructure and invite them to collaborate with council and police on graffiti prevention and removal initiatives.
Two amendments were lost before the council adopted the motion in a seven to one vote with Crs Sharon Griffiths, Lisa Intemann, Nik Lipovac, Danielle Maltman, Peta Pinson, Adam Roberts and Josh Slade in favour, and Rachel Sheppard against.
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