15 September, 2023
Moves afoot to curb anti-social behaviour
ANTI-social behaviour and intravenous drug use along Priors Creek where Tablelands Regional Council hopes to create a high-quality, family-friendly recreation area is so concerning that two councillors will seek to get immediate action to make changes to the picnic shelter used by the culprits.
Crs Bernie Wilce and Peter Hodge inspected the shelter last week and revealed that a recent visit had uncovered around 30 syringes, other drug paraphernalia and smashed glass.
“We came down here with a police officer recently and he is getting more concerned about the anti-social behaviour in the area and a lot of it is hiding behind the wall,” Cr Wilce said.
The wall is badly graffitied on one side and on the other are images of the mountain bike trail, which have also become a target of vandalism.
“One of the things the police are concerned about is people using the rail trail – many of whom are alone – who have told them they are concerned about the behaviours they are seeing at the shelter,” Cr Wilce said.
“Sometimes there are 20 or so people drinking alcohol down there.
“It’s becoming a haven for this type of behaviour and no normal or respectful person would want to come anywhere near here (referring to the shelter and the area surrounding it).”
“This is a fantastic community facility – why provide them and maintain them when they are going to be treated like this?” he said, pointing out the graffiti which includes offensive language and expletives.
“The police are very concerned about it so we want to do what we can so the area is not a lure for anti-social behaviour.”
Homeless people are also being drawn to the area and camping under the trees near the creek, leaving rubbish and old camping equipment and using the bush as a toilet.
Both councillors will join forces to move a resolution at the next ordinary meeting to have the wall removed, old water tanks removed, and the power to the shelter decommissioned.
The old water tanks were used by cyclists who used to gather at the area for rides but that is also no longer happening.
“The water in those tanks would no doubt be contaminated,” Cr Wilce said.
“Water comes off the roof and into the tanks but people may think it’s okay to drink so it’s a safety issue.”
Cr Wilce said electricity outlets at the shelter were being used to power up stereos, disturbing people who even live on the other side of Priors Creek.
Both councillors know the immediate changes will not "fix everything but it's a start".
Atherton office-in-charge Senior Sergeant Kyell Palmer said the area around the shelter had unfortunately become a congregation point for alcohol consumption and public disorder.
“Sometimes there are unintentional consequences of public amenities ending up being a place where individuals can congregate and get involved in public disorder,” he said.
“Police will always support any actions council can take that make public areas safer.”
With Tablelands Regional Council currently seeking expressions of interest in commercial lots surrounding the Priors Creek precinct and having just approved a third-storey apartment building across the road from the park and shelter that will house 27 units, both councillors feel there is an urgency to take action.
“This is what should be a place where the family can come but no one comes here anymore,” Cr Hodge said.
“Everything is also overgrown and this is one of our biggest problems – maintaining our public assets.
“It’s a shame to see this area like this and we want people to be able to use this area safely.
Crs Wilce and Hodge both believe that once the Priors Creek redevelopment is completed, CCTV will need to be installed to protect the assets and the public.
The two councillors will raise the matter at the council meeting on 28 September.