Oatlands businesses welcome security

WHEN Behan Michael Pharmacies was robbed twice in 10 months at knifepoint, owner Eileen Behan started petitioning for safety improvements.

Nearly 800 signatures and a community forum later, The Hills Council has agreed to look at installing security cameras and improving lighting in the shopping strip in Belmore Street East.

In council's sights: The Hills deputy mayor Andrew Jefferies outside Behan Michael Pharmacies at Oatlands. Picture: Natalie Roberts

In council's sights: The Hills deputy mayor Andrew Jefferies outside Behan Michael Pharmacies at Oatlands. Picture: Natalie Roberts

"It's their personal livelihood, so absolutely we had to step in," said The Hills deputy mayor Andrew Jefferies, who was among the nearly 100 people at the forum organised by Ms Behan and Parramatta MP Geoff Lee in May.

"We're getting quotes about CCTV . . . and we're having discussions with the energy companies about lighting."

The Hills police command is working with council on this review of lighting and has stepped up patrols in the shopping strip which has about a dozen shops, including Oatlands Newsagency.

A police spokesman said other than the two chemist robberies, police had attended only a few minor antisocial behaviour incidents in the strip in the last five years.

Newsagent owner Jacki Lay has been in business on the strip for about 23 years.

Ms Lay welcomed the peace of mind security cameras would bring. She was equally pleased with the increased police presence.

"I see them about three times a day," she said.

John Carro, 46, who has been shopping in the strip since he was a kid, said: "I like the [new] paving; it's beautiful. Lighting will be good — and cameras."

He was referring to recent improvements The Hills Council had made, including paving, seating and plant boxes outside the shops.

Mr Lee, who lives at Oatlands, said: "It was a great outcome — a great example of how the whole community can work together to achieve what they want."

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