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Curtis Attacks Corporate Biz Committee Over Safety

Mayor Attacks Head-In-The-Sand Attitude To Crime & Safety

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis is critical of the decision by the Council’s Corporate Business Committee last night not to support a proposal to establish a new committee on community safety.

Instead the committee decided to hold a workshop in October to examine the idea further.

Sir Barry says the members of the committee have their heads in the sand. “It’s a foolish decision because crime is on the rise and we need to attack it in a focused and integrated way. That is what’s lacking at the moment.

“Those councillors need to realise the extent of the problem. They’re simply out of touch with what’s happening out on the streets, as well as with the mood of our residents – who are the very people they are paid to serve. The community’s calling out for the Council to join the fight against crime in areas where we have a legitimate role and responsibility, such as promoting a safe city environment.

“For example, one major business is considering leaving Manukau because of two devastating burglaries close together. I cannot name the company, but it is very important to the future of the city. A neighbouring company has also been hit by a series of burglaries. These incidents often lead insurance companies to refuse cover and threaten the viability of these businesses.

“I will be meeting with the Police and the company to see what can be done to make their site safe.

“Crime such as vandalism, theft and burglary are affecting many businesses in Manukau and threatening our local economy. If they leave, they take jobs with them. It also affects the reputation of the city and that makes it harder to attract new businesses here in the future.

“No new businesses, no new jobs.

“But crime is also a neighbourhood worry as well. Our research and community feedback shows that concern about crime and public safety is the number one concern of Manukau residents.

“But I want to make one thing clear. We are not the only city facing this problem, nor are we alone in wanting to get involved. It’s affecting Wellington and Auckland cities also, for example, and it’s also a nationwide concern.
“The city councils in Wellington and Auckland have already acted on this issue. Auckland City Council has a Law and Order committee as well as a financial partnership of approximately $500,000 between Police, Ministry of Justice, tangata whenua and Council for crime prevention initiatives.

Wellington City Council has a Safe City Programme which aims to improve the public’s feeling of safety at all times. Its initiatives are working as the inner city streets are now perceived to be much safer than they were. “Wellington’s budget for that programme is $5 million over four years, which is serious money and a long term commitment to community safety.”

Manukau City Council has long undertaken initiatives to make the city a healthier and safer place to live. But they are currently uncoordinated and there is great room for improvement to make them more effective. Sir Barry says setting up a new committee would not mean taking over a central government responsibility or even be a change of direction but coordinate Council’s community safety work in a more effective and efficient manner.

“The role of local government is more than just looking after basics such as rubbish removal and roads. It is about creating vibrant & strong communities where people are proud, progressive and prosperous.

Crime and fear of crime is one serious concern impacting on our community’s safety as it reduces resident’s quality of life, whereas people enjoy their lives when they feel safe. Crime therefore not only affects a community psychologically, but also economically and commercially. Crime is then expensive in two ways- it directly costs the victim and the whole community by making people reluctant to participate in community and business activities. “Creating a safe community environment is not the job of the Police alone. They need help and our ongoing support.

“A community safety committee could also strongly advocate to Wellington for concerted Government action on crime & safety issues when required. At the moment we rely on my office and our individual officers to do that, but a committee would be a more powerful and effective lobby group for our city.”

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