Activists at hospital site could face criminal charges
POLICE say activists defacing the $534m Tweed Valley Hospital site could face criminal charges after several banners criticising the site selection process were placed on the site's fence over the past week.
Two banners appeared on the fence over the weekend which criticised the State Government's decision to place the new hospital on State Significant Farmland.
While one banner was taken down, another appeared overnight on Tuesday, this time claiming Tweed Heads seniors were getting "shafted" and that work had started without consent.
Acting Police Superintendent Brendon Cullen said defacement of the site could be considered malicious damage, which is a form of vandalism.
"If people are damaging property we will be taking legal action against those people," he said.
"It is circumstantial and will be assessed on its merit and could be assessed as malicious damage."
Act Supt Cullen said Tweed police had already increased patrols in the area after vandals twice targeted the site and destroyed geological equipment and a toolbox in December.
"It's a significant development, a State Government development, and we have already increased taskings in that area," he said.
Relocate Tweed Valley Hospital leader Hayley Paddon said the banners demonstrated community "frustration".
"I think it's polarising the anger the community still has that the Tweed MP and our Government still isn't listening to us," she said.
"We're not the only people in the community that have a massive bee in their bonnet that they're continuing on with their works."
Mrs Paddon also moved to distance Team Relocate from the banners.
"Team Relocate has nothing to do with it, it's obviously someone watching us very closely, but it's definitely not anyone in my team," she said. "We condone the message, we've been putting out the message for nine months, but we don't condone the vandalism, never."
Support our Hospital spokeswoman Penny Hockings said she thought the banners were "disgraceful".
"I think it's very immature and only adds to the division already in the community," she said.
A Health Infrastructure spokesperson said they were working "closely" with Tweed police to ensure the incidents were investigated.