By CAM LUCADOU-WELLS
Council boss calls for police to crack down on centre’s troublemakers…
DANDENONG’s hard-won growing reputation could be tarnished if anti-social problems aren’t stamped out, Greater Dandenong City Council’s chief executive John Bennie has warned.
At a council meeting on Monday last week, Mr Bennie said his preference was for a “zero tolerance” approach towards safety and security in the precinct, listing hotspots such as Palm Plaza, the length of Lonsdale Street and “our wonderful” civic square.
“The reputation and image of this activity centre will be damaged quite significantly.
“If we don’t take that approach going forward, the good work of this council and our partners will be undone.”
Mr Bennie said there would be increased use of closed-circuit TV cameras to record and document behaviour that “may have breached good order and local laws”.
The intent was to have the CCTV “live and monitored” to allow police to react quickly to incidents.
“Our intention is to crack down fully and purposefully on those behaviours, to hopefully eradicate them from the activity centre.”
The council had recently banned public access to the civic centre’s underground car park, while it is subject to a security audit.
Mr Bennie said aside from the car park, there needed to be a “broader perspective” to safety and security in the precinct.
He was responding to concerns raised by councillor Peter Brown about a “threatening” group of teenagers smoking and displaying “fairly territorial behaviour” near the precinct’s library entrance last Monday.
When Cr Brown asked them not to smoke, one of the young people spat a “gorby” near the councillors’ feet.
Cr Brown, who is also a secondary school teacher, said it took him some time to find a security guard and he called for more “proactive security enforcement” in the civic precinct.
The Journal reported in November on traders’ discontent about daytime public drunkenness in Palm Plaza including brawls using bottles, indecent exposure, urination and vomiting.
A trader, who had complained often to police and the council, welcomed the sterner approach.
He said police had recently put an end to the daily congregation of up to half a dozen drunks and their cheap liquor.
“There was an assault – one of them was kicked in the head twice – and we saw a number of police have a word with them. Then they disappeared.
“I saw one (drinker) come back this week.
“He just sat on the bench by himself for about half-an-hour and left.”