THE laneway near the hockey complex could be closed as part of a last-ditch effort to stop ongoing violence and vandalism in the troubled area.
The Nunns Avenue complex was again a point of discussion for Orange councillors at this week’s meeting after another incident last weekend where a gang of about eight youths around 16 years of age threw rocks at hockey players and their supporters at the complex.
Cr Jason Hamling suggested the laneway should be closed for a three-month trial and believes the inconvenience of the closure to residents may encourage them to speak out and “dob in” the offenders.
“The hockey fraternity of Orange and visiting teams should be able to play hockey in complete safety and not worry about these sorts of attacks,” he said.
At a meeting earlier in the month all councillors agreed the council needed to call on police to step up patrols in the area, but later decided to ramp up community programs to reach out to the youth involved to avoid a heavy-handed approach.
Cr Hamling said the programs would work but more needed to be done to stop hockey players being abused and attacked.
Community and cultural services director Scott Maunder said he had raised the issues with Canobolas Local Area Command Superintendent David Driver, Aboriginal community liaison officer Glenn Sutherland and the council’s Aboriginal youth project worker Kurt Beahan.
“They’re aware of it and they’re aware of five juveniles suspected as being involved,” he said.
He said Mr Sutherland had visited the homes of the youths aged between 10 and 12 and spoke to their families.
“There is general community concern about what will happen if that laneway is closed ... if they’ll climb over it or the alternative routes they’ll take,” Mr Maunder said.
Cr Chris Gryllis was concerned closing the lane would penalise residents for the sake of a few vandals and suggested the council should consult with the neighbourhood first.
“Councillors should meet and inspect the place with the users and then shut it for a trial or forever,” he said.
Cr Hamling suggested lockable gates could be installed at either end for the hockey association to close the lane during games.
But Cr Ron Gander said an enormous amount of vandalism was happening after dark seven days a week, not just during games.
Cr Scott Munro said the police were the only ones that could fix the problems.
“If we know through CCTV and people’s eyewitness accounts of who the kids are lets clean them up,” he said.
“It’s up to the police not council.”