BOOZE DRUGS BRAWLS
By PETER CATON
IT'S Murwillumbah's hidden shame - a stretch of parkland behind the town's levee wall where drunkenness, drug taking and fights go mostly unnoticed.
On Wednesday a man was allegedly stabbed near the wall gates and was taken to Murwillumbah Hospital.
Residents who occasionally venture behind the King Street levee to catch the beautiful views of the Tweed River say it is common to see groups of young people crowded around a carton of rum and cola.
Empty cans on the riverbank often testify to that.
And only the bravest would venture into the nearby, graffiti-covered public toilet block which yesterday had a rolled blanket partly obscuring one of the small windows.
"We need more police," Murwillumbah and District Business Chamber director Steve Abram said yesterday. "Maybe we will have to replace the concrete levey wall with an earth embankment."
He said locals had to report any crime no matter how small to the police so more police were provided for the town.
He said he would also like to know if people drinking behind the wall were "on benefits" or "pro-actively looking for work".
"You are never going to stop the sort of person who does that," he said. "All you can do is minimise the opportunity."
Mr Abram said he was saddened that growth in Murwillumbah might have brought with it a growth in crime and violence.
Recreation services manager for Tweed Shire Council Stewart Brawley said the council in conjunction with the nearby Murwillumbah Memorial Services Club had recently cleaned up the parkland inside the wall opposite the club.
"We rehabilitated the riverbank and opened the area up. That created a bit more vision into there," he said.
"It was a little daunting walking through there at times. Some of my staff have expressed concerns about vagrants and some of the drinking that goes on.
"I'm not sure what more council can do. It's a bit of a social issue.
"There are people who sleep in parks and do these sorts of things."
A police spokesman was not available to comment on Wednesday's stabbing and other police said they were not authorised to release information. To contact police call the hotline number.