Petty attack prompts new $2000 security payment

A masked intruder just before he ripped a security camera down from Cr Petty's property at Helensburgh.
A masked intruder just before he ripped a security camera down from Cr Petty's property at Helensburgh.
Greg Petty

Greg Petty

Wollongong councillors whose safety is at risk because of their civic roles will have up to $2000 of ratepayer funds at their disposal to boost their home security systems.

Councillors voted this week to allow the controversial move, saying the cost was negligible and would send a message that threats against councillors and their property were not acceptable.

The move came after unknown perpetrators attacked the Helensburgh home of ward one councillor Greg Petty last year, cutting power to his house and disabling the property's CCTV system.

Cr Petty claimed it was the 16th incident against him since his election to the council in September 2011, and believed the attacks were repeat attempts to intimidate him because of his stance on land zoning issues in the area.

During the new proposal's public exhibition period, six residents objected to ratepayer funds being used to reimburse councillors for their personal protection.

They also raised concerns that an individual councillor's conduct could contribute to safety and security risks.

Liberal councillors Bede Crasnich and Michelle Blicavs said the security allowance was not supported by the community, and voted against the move.

Cr Crasnich argued the council should not be involved in personal security because it was "a matter for us and the Wollongong Police."

However, other councillors argued increased protection was simply a "contingency plan" unlikely to be used by most councillors.

Independent councillor Vicki Curran said $2000 was a small amount that would allow the council to protect the workplace health and safety of its councillors.

"Our community, when we put our hand up to represent them, certainly do not expect us to have threats made or have our safety jeopardised," Cr Curran said.

"This is a very small safety net [that] also allows us to meet our responsibilities under WorkCover, which I think as a council we have an obligation to do."

Before claiming back expenses, councillors will have to gain approval from council general manager David Farmer, who will then consult with NSW Police before making a decision.