MEDIA RELEASE - Maitland CCTV funding pleas ignored as millions gather dust
State Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison has condemned the Liberal and National Government for its glacial rollout of a $5 million CCTV Fund earmarked for projects in 10 Sydney LGAs while Maitland’s pleas for funding continue to fall on deaf ears.
In February 2019 the NSW Government announced a Community and Small Business CCTV Fund, specifically for projects in parts of Western and South-Western Sydney. More than a year later, less than $320,000 has been allocated.
“There has clearly been a massive underspend with this program,” said Ms Aitchison. “More than $4,680,000 in this fund has not been allocated. Meanwhile, Maitland’s small businesses and community organisations are crying out for assistance to help address some of the crime hotspots in the electorate.”
Ms Aitchison said that Maitland was not the only rural or regional area in NSW that experienced crime, and that communities outside metropolitan areas were equally deserving of funding.
“The Premier needs to explain why she’s not interested in deterring criminal behaviour and preventing crime in our regions,” Ms Aitchison said.
On three occasions this year Ms Aitchison has utilised Parliamentary Questions on Notice to ask the Attorney General about the potential expansion of the fund to include community groups and small businesses in the Maitland electorate.
“I was advised in March that the Community and Small Business CCTV Fund would be rolled out in Western and South-Western Sydney for four years before it would be assessed for expansion into other parts of the state,” Ms Aitchison said. “The assessment will deem whether the program is appropriately meeting the needs of the community.
“This is ludicrous. How can this program succeed when $4,680,000 of the funds are unspent? An on-paper commitment will do absolutely nothing to deter criminal behaviour and crime prevention if the money is sitting in the Government’s coffers.
“We cannot let the Government get away with this enormous underspend and then deem the program worthless due to a failure to install much-needed CCTV. We know that where CCTV is used, crime rates go down. The Government must not be allowed to dismiss this.”
On Tuesday Ms Aitchison delivered a Notice of Motion in the Parliament of NSW that gave notice of her intention to move that members of the Legislative Assembly:
Acknowledged the $5 million NSW Community and Small Business CCTV Fund was rolled out in February 2019 to ten Western and South-Western Sydney LGAs excluding rural and regional communities and small businesses;
Noted that after 14 months, less than $320,000 has been allocated to ten LGAs;
Condemned the Liberal and National Government for failing to allocate funding to rural and regional LGAs like Maitland; and
Called on the Government to review the program and expand the criteria to include small businesses and community groups across rural and regional NSW.
“The message from this Sydney-centric Liberals and Nationals Government remains crystal clear,” Ms Aitchison said. “They just don’t care about rural and regional communities.”