AN urge to keep rates low in tandem with a crime rate trending down has won out over the wishes of an arguable majority of Ellenbrook and Morgan Fields residents, with the City of Swan voting not to reinstate security patrols in a 9 votes to 6 decision.
The security patrols have been an issue of concern for Ellenbrook residents since they were scrapped by council on June 30, 2018 after a community survey with Ellenbrook and The Vines.
The survey indicated residents felt they were not receiving value for money and, combined with the fact ratepayers would have to bear the full cost of the patrols after development contributions for the area ceased in the 2018/2019 financial year, the patrols were scrapped after running successfully for 15 years.
In November 2019, a survey on the reinstatement of the patrols was sent out to 9672 rateable properties in the area.
While only 2,308 surveys were returned, a slim majority – 53.03 per cent – were in favour of returning the patrols, with 45.67 per cent asking for the return of a 24/7, seven days a week service of two security patrol cars.
There were compelling arguments on both sides of the debate.
Councillor Patty Jones, who moved the motion not to reinstate the service, seconded by councillor Rod Henderson, argued that after speaking to residents and Ellenbrook Police, it became clear that crime was trending down in the suburb and an additional $110 to $130 added to the rates of Ellenbrook and Morgan Fields residents would be a burden too much for many.
Councillor Henderson took the argument one further, saying that the City was already faced with a rates increase that may be above CPI, and with Ellenbrook already in the spotlight for mortgage defaults, he could not support the return of the security patrols.
For Councillors Tanya Richardson and Ian Johnson, the reasoning was simple – it was about listening to the community and the majority who responded to the survey.
Ultimately the argument to not reinstate the patrols won over the majority of councillors in a 9-6 vote.
The City will now resurvey Ellenbrook and Morgan Fields residents and ratepayers about the patrols in 2021, with Cr Mel Congerton pushing for more detail to be included in the survey, and an accurate breakdown of exactly where the majority of the responses came from.
The survey will also include up-to-date crime data for Ellenbrook, with the reasoning being that the addition of this data will enable residents and ratepayers to make a more informed decision as to their preference.