Public drinking: town council staffer stands his ground


Town council Community Services Director Craig Catchlove (pictured) stood his ground last night when he came under fire over statements on illegal public drinking reported in the Centralian Advocate newspaper.
Cr Chansey Peach, at the monthly council meeting, said comments in social media had cast doubts on claims by Mr Catchlove that there was a sharp drop in these offences.
Cr Eli Melky said Mr Catchlove ought to have made it clear that these were his views, not the council’s.
But Mr Catchlove said his statements were about the work of council rangers in areas they patrolled – public areas, rivers, parks and known drinking hotspots, and drinking had dropped to “virtually zero” there.
“The stats show that,” he said. He had not been referring to suburban areas.
Cr Melky said the town has a long way to go with efforts to solve the drinking problem.
Mr Catchlove said: “I made no comments on solving the alcohol problems.”
He had been speaking to the newspaper as a director of the council and under instructions from CEO Rex Mooney to discuss the statistics.
Cr Paech asked if the council had asked for a coordinated response with the NT police about activities for young people during the upcoming school holidays, when youth crime usually escalates. Mr Catchlove said there is no coordination in that respect.
Cr Paech said he did “not support spending $360,000 a month to have police in front of bottle shops”.
Cr Liz Martin said she supported that presence at the points of alcohol sale.  Recently she had attempted, without success, to ring police on 131444 about 10 times when she found a woman lying in the middle of Gap Road.
She went to the bottle shop at the Gap and spoke to the police officer there, who took prompt action.
Cr Brendan Heenan said police were doing “a fantastic job,” there is a decrease in bad social behaviour. Domestic violence as well as alcohol sales are “way down”.
However, he said kids are still “running riot. That’s not fixed.”
In other news, Cr Dave Douglas said drains around the town “look terrible” and needed to be mowed and cleaned up.
Mr Mooney said the council had taken over most drains from the NT Government in 1990. However, conditions attached to that agreement are “not fulfilled”. The council has now fully surveyed the drains, and he will be seeking negotiations with the NT Government.
Councillors Heenan and Steve Brown were re-elected as members of the Alice Springs Division of the Development Consent Authority, and Cr Paech as the alternate member.
No decision was made on Cr Paech’s proposed response by the council to changes of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act under consideration by the Federal Government.
It was decided that Mr Catchlove would report about the Act to the Corporate and Community Services Committee at its next meeting.

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