Geelong Advertiser journalist Andrea Hamblin reports that, 'Fewer police will be rostered on in Queenscliff, Portarlington, Drysdale and Ocean Grove during days, with members eventually used to make up a 24-hour patrol. But there are no plans for extra police numbers to help to deal with the increased workload on the peninsula.' ('Coast cops called away' Geelong Advertiser 25 May)
The report continues, 'A Geelong Advertiser investigation has found coastal police are already regularly called to bolster numbers elsewhere, most recently last Saturday night, when the peninsula was left without on-duty police for about five hours.'
'Even worse than we thought'
The removal of police cover is bad news for the whole of the Bellarine, but it's especially worrying for Drysdale and Ocean Grove, each of which will see their populations expand significantly in the next couple of years.
In Drysdale, work is well advanced on the massive new estates in Stage One of Drysdale's Jetty Road development (1,500 lots, around 6,000 people); and work will start soon on the planned Central Walk estate near Drysdale's town centre. However, not only will there will be no additional emergency services cover (fire brigade, ambulance and, of course, police) for these additional people - even the existing cover is being withdrawn on occasions!
Planning authorities have dismissed locals' long standing concern about increased emergency services to match the increased population. Three years ago, objectors to a planning proposal (C152) to rezone the Jetty Road land expressed concern that the Jetty Road estates would not see additional emergency services cover. The City of Greater Geelong and a state Planning Panel dismissed their concerns, stating that they were outside the remit of the planning system.
Today, people in Drysdale have found that the situation is even worse than they thought. Not only will the massive expansion in the town's population see no additional police, but even the existing police are being withdrawn to bolster cover elsewhere in Geelong.