Alstonville’s police fears
RESIDENTS of Alstonville and Wollongbar are concerned about the future of the Alstonville police station, with locals saying it has been ‘more or less closed’ for the past six months.
Long-term Plateau resident Bob Wilson said the issue had been brewing for about five years.
He has called on the State Government to commit more officers to the Richmond Local Area Command so that officers can be based permanently at Alstonville.
“My main concern is that the understaffing of the Ballina police station is affecting the people of Alstonville, Wollongbar and Wardell,” he said.
“It’s a wider problem relating to the need for more police officers in the whole Richmond LAC.
“But it is really going to affect us on the Plateau in years to come.
“We’ve already got a population of 12,000 and with Wollongbar growing, we’ll have 15,000 people up here before too long.
“For us to have no police officers is outrageous.
“Imagine if there was an incident in Lennox Head and officers had to attend that, and then something happened at Wollongbar.
“It would take half an hour to an hour for police to get here. We know it’s not their fault – they work very hard under difficult conditions.
“But the whole thing is really frustrating.”
Inspector Gary Cowan denied the Alstonville Police Station had been closed for six months.
But he acknowledged that ‘from time to time’ officers from Alstonville were redeployed to other locations.
“Even when that happens, a police response is still maintained for Alstonville,” Insp Cowan said.
“The Ballina and Lismore sectors provide support.
“I would like to reassure the community that the Alstonville police station is not closed.”
Ballina MP Don Page said the lack of officers in Alstonville and Wardell was because the first-response team at Ballina was ‘so under-strength’.
“Officers at Ballina are under a tremendous amount of pressure to maintain a first response,” he said.
“It’s worse in Ballina than in other areas – officers are working too many weekends and they’re getting burnt out, so this is a really important issue that must be addressed.
“We need to be looking at this as a high priority.
“The bottom line is that we desperately need more police officers.”