Wollongong council backs security payment

Wollongong City Council has backed a proposal to give councillors access to ratepayer funds to boost their home security if carrying out their civic duties is putting their safety at risk.

Councillors last night voted unanimously to change their expenses policy to allow councillors fearing for their safety to be reimbursed for costs associated with protecting themselves and their homes from any "adverse security breaches".

The proposed changes will be put out for public comment for a month, before coming back to the council for the final tick of approval.

MORE: Councillors could receive security payment

Under the changes, the council's general manager, David Farmer, will be responsible for determining councillors' requests for up to $2000 annually for home CCTV equipment or security monitoring.

Any amount above $2000 will have to be endorsed by the full council once advice has been received from the chair of the council's corporate governance committee and the professional conduct co-ordinator.

The move comes almost two months after unknown perpetrators deliberately cut power to the Helensburgh home of Ward 1 councillor Greg Petty, who claimed it was the 16th incident against him since his election to the council in September 2011.

He believed the attacks were repeat attempts to intimidate him because of his stance on land zoning issues in the area.

Cr Petty last night raised concerns over issues to do with councillor security becoming public - via a council meeting - especially any information relating to what forms of protection might be installed.

He asked Mr Farmer whether the matter could be dealt with in a closed council session. Mr Farmer confirmed the NSW Local Government Act, which sets out legal parameters for council meetings, allowed such matters to be considered in private.

To do so would mean both the details of which councillor wanted protection and the amount of money they were seeking would be kept secret.

Cr Petty, who has openly and freely discussed his attacks in the media in the past, said being in the spotlight had only exacerbated his situation.

"The hardest part for me [was] this being on Facebook," he said.

"I might as well have been a wanted poster."

Meantime, councillors also asked for staff to investigate the council's responsibility to provide protection for councillors under workplace health and safety legislation.

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