BY GEORGIA CLARK
The installation of anti-terror bollards in Martin Place has aroused controversy amidst claims that the City of Sydney failed to consult with NSW Police about the development.
The concrete slabs, installed near the State Library late last month, have well and truly cemented their place in history this week, after Lord Mayor Clover Moore stood her ground against a staunch pushback, saying the bollards mitigate the risk of a car-borne terror attack such as those seen in Westminster recently.
But Police Minister Troy Grant criticised the decision, saying that he was not notified of Council’s decision to install the barriers and that they cause unnecessary panic.
A string of emails released on Cr Moore’s website published last week show the City of Sydney consulting with police, including messages and calendar invitations showing the NSW Police conceding that barricades in Martin Place are a good idea, but rejecting the Council’s suggestion of installing flower beds.
“Not only did we consult police on the matter, they advised the City not to install flower beds as planned, but rather stronger concrete barriers,” she said.
But Troy Grant said he was not consulted and that the security measures should have been “communicated more broadly in the community so as to not create an environment of fear for residents and visitors,” he said.
Cr Moore said the City of Sydney will continue with measures to mitigate any civil terrorist threats and protect the public.
“These barricades, and others being rolled out in the area, will be replaced with more permanent measures, such as bollards, garden beds or other landscaping features that both strengthen security and ensure our public spaces are attractive,” she said.
Angela Vithoulkas, Independent Councillor for the City of Sydney said that the Council has an obligation to ensure that anti-terror measures always involve consultation with the police.
“The way that the concrete blocks were dumped in Martin Place without Councillor consultation shows that Clover Moore’s priorities are not in step. Councillors are elected to represent the community as well but we weren’t consulted about this important issue and when we put forward other suggestions they are not supported.”
Clr Vithoulkas is putting forward a notice of motion at this month’s council meeting to address concerns raised by her electorate about potentially dangerous trucks and other terrorism hazards in laneways.
She said that at the last council meeting, the Clover Moore team indicated that a review of the laneways would be “too onerous on staff” which showed their lack of interest in consulting other councillors on such matters.
Ms Vithoulkas said it illustrated an abuse of power.
“The lack of consultation with Councillors and the Deputy Lord Mayor by Clover Moore and her team of Councillors and 22 staff show that when people have ultimate power they lose focus and make decisions without considering the consequences. This is the perfect example,” she said.