City unveils new playground

Rankin Park families have a new $150,000 playground on McCaffrey Drive as City of Newcastle continues its rollout of new and upgraded facilities across the local government area.

The Coldstream Reserve facility follows delivery of three other new playgrounds by the City this year in Adamstown, Wallsend, and the incredibly popular Stockton Active Hub on the Stockton foreshore.

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“Up to five of Newcastle’s 119 playgrounds are included annually in the City’s asset renewal works program,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“Two more upgrades are set to be delivered in Wallsend at Carrington Street Reserve and Brickworks Park over the next 12 months.”

The Lord Mayor and locals will gather in Coldstream Reserve Saturday to officially open the facility, which was built by City of Newcastle as a replacement for another nearby playground which had to be closed because of mine subsidence.

“I’m delighted to deliver this new playground for the Rankin Park community,” Councillor Nelmes said.

George-and-Ari.jpg“This is the fourth playground we’ve opened this year and I know how much pleasure they bring for both kids and their families.

“After the forced closure of the Rosedale Crescent playground, the community was consulted to choose a new location, and the consensus was Coldstream Reserve just a few hundred metres away. The feedback so far is that the kids absolutely love it.”

The playground includes a range of options to challenge young bodies and minds, including a rope-based play system, platforms and slide, swing set and balance logs.

Funded by Subsidence Advisory NSW in partnership with City of Newcastle, the playground blends with the slope of the reserve, changing levels via steps in a sandstone retaining wall.

Equipment colours match surrounding eucalypts and the play area, which is fenced off from McCaffrey Drive, is accessible via a path that also leads to picnic tables under a timber shade structure.

Playgrounds earmarked for an overhaul are selected and prioritised from a biennial independent audit that assesses their existing condition against current safety standards and guidelines.

The community is invited to celebrate the opening of the new playground tomorrow, Saturday 19 October 2019 from 10.30am.

Image caption: Two-year-old George Outram with Ari Boorer, 2.

Newcastle leads the way with smart city infrastructure

An advanced network of sensors spread across the city has put Newcastle on the front foot to combat a range of local environmental issues.

The City’s ‘Envirosensing’ network and Internet of Things (IoT) project, which will be officially launched today, is the culmination of three years of work to build one of the most advanced smart city infrastructure systems in Australia.
Capture5-(1).JPGThe system is designed to measure a range of environmental conditions including temperature, humidity, wind direction, air quality, water usage, soil moisture and solar irradiance.

The infrastructure also allows for the pilot deployment of smart bin sensors, smart parking sensors and other smart city applications.

Data collected by the sensors can help the City better understand and respond to issues such as urban heat island effect, air pollution, flood management and water sustainability, as well as monitor the performance of urban systems and assets.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Newcastle is leading the way when it comes to investment in and uptake of technology.

“The launch is a significant milestone, marking the completion of the base infrastructure required to start deploying applications that not only solve the city’s challenges but also harness exciting opportunities,” Cr Nelmes said.

“An example of how these sensors can be used is in combatting the phenomenon of higher temperatures in areas with a lot of buildings and pavement, known as the Urban Heat Island effect.

“Studies show that Urban Heat Islands are associated with higher pollution and negative health conditions, especially for the elderly and young children. This technology will be integral to exploring possible actions to mitigate urban warming.”

Today’s launch will also showcase custom-designed adaptable sensor housings developed with local industrial design outfit Design Anthology, which are integrated into the city’s growing smart pole network and can be accessed by the City’s research and industry partners to develop new technologies and help solve city challenges.

Cr Nelmes said this network will establish Newcastle as an experimental testbed for progressing research, prototyping and entrepreneurial activity.

“The scope of this system’s potential is as far-reaching as the imagination of the researchers and entrepreneurs we hope to attract to solve an open-ended range of challenges using sensing and data,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This infrastructure will allow us to focus on optimisation, efficiency and evidence-based decisions in our journey towards becoming a smart, sustainable and liveable global city.”

The NSW Government supported the deployment of smart city infrastructure through a $5 million grant via the Restart NSW-funded Hunter Innovation Project. A partnership with the State Government will see the City of Newcastle invest an additional $2 million over three years.

Woman charged over alleged sale of synthetic cannabis – Mayfield

A woman appeared in court today charged over the alleged supply of synthetic cannabis from a tobacconist near Newcastle.

Officers from the Police Transport and Public Safety Command attached to Newcastle commenced an investigation after receiving information regarding prohibited drugs in Mayfield.

Following inquiries, a search warrant was executed at a tobacconist on Hanbury Street, Mayfield, about 10am yesterday (Thursday 17 October 2019).

During the search, police located and seized 1.25 kilograms of cannabis, 52 glass water pipes, cash and documentation.

A 56-year-old woman was arrested at the scene and taken to Waratah Police Station where she was charged with supply prohibited drug, knowingly supply psychoactive substance for human consumption, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime and display waterpipe in shop.

The woman was refused bail and appeared before Newcastle Local Court today (Friday 18 October 2019), where she was granted conditional bail to appear before the same court on Thursday 19 December 2019.

Man charged over alleged armed robbery – West Wallsend

A man will face court today charged over an alleged armed robbery in West Wallsend.

About 10.50am yesterday (Wednesday 16 October 2019), a 28-year-old man entered a store on Carrington Street, West Wallsend.

Police will allege the man – armed with a knife – threatened a 31-year-old female employee and demanded cash.

He then fled the scene in a Toyota Camry with alleged stolen number plates.

While officers from Lake Macquarie Police District were responding to the initial call, a Traffic & Highway Patrol vehicle noticed the Toyota Camry allegedly travelling at speed.

Officers stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver.

A subsequent search of the vehicle allegedly located clothing and cash.

He was arrested and taken to Toronto Police Station.

He was charged with robbery whilst armed, goods in custody and two counts of fraud.

He was refused bail to face Toronto Local Court today (Thursday 17 October 2019).

Man charged with close to $40,000 of alleged fraud – Broadmeadow

A man will face court next month after allegedly defrauding a Newcastle business of close to $40,000 over a one year period.

In September 2019, detectives from Newcastle City Police District commenced an investigation into several alleged fraudulent transactions at a business on Lang Road, Broadmeadow between September 2018 and September 2019.

Following extensive inquiries, yesterday (Wednesday 16 October 2019), a 48-year-old man presented to Newcastle Police Station where he was arrested.

Police will allege the man, who was an employee at the time, fraudulently obtained $38,620.30.

He was charged with steal property as clerk/servant more than $15,000 and dishonestly obtain property by deception. He was granted conditional bail to face Newcastle Local Court on Thursday 28 November 2019.

Investigations are continuing.

Man to face court on alleged sexual assault offences – Gateshead

A man has been charged with alleged sexual assault offences in the Lake Macquarie region.

In September 2019, detectives from Lake Macquarie Police District commenced an investigation after reports a 14-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted by a man known to her.

Following extensive inquiries, yesterday (Wednesday 16 October 2019) a 44-year-old man was arrested at a Gateshead address.

He was taken to Belmont Police Station and charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault under 16 years of age.

He was refused bail to face Belmont Local Court today (Thursday 17 October 2019).

Investigations are continuing.

Man charged following alleged armed robbery – Strike Force Timbrell

A fourth man has been charged following an investigation into an armed robbery that occurred late last year in the Hunter Valley.

About 4.50am on Saturday 22nd December 2018, three men allegedly forced entry into a licence club in the town of Greta, near Maitland.

The club was closed at the time, when the trio, allegedly armed with a firearm, a baseball bat and a sword, approached an employee, who was the only staff member present.

The group allegedly attacked the employee before collecting a number of items and leaving the location in a car driven by a fourth man.

Strike Force Timbrell was established by State Crime Command’s Robbery and Serious Crime squad to investigate the incident.

About 9.15am (Wednesday 16 October 2019) a 26-year-old man was conveyed from a correctional facility in Cessnock to Newcastle Police Station.

He was charged with robbery whilst armed with a dangerous weapon and refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court today (Wednesday 16 October 2019).

Planning underway for growing sporting community

Sporting clubs and the broader community will take part in planning this week to ensure the supply of sporting infrastructure keeps up with Newcastle’s growing population.

Ongoing consultation for City of Newcastle’s Strategic Sports Plan will help determine the needs of 13 different sports up to and beyond 2031, when the number of residents is expected to top 188,000, up from around 162,000 today.

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A Twenty20 match at a packed No.1 Sportsground in 2007. 
Research by the Otium Planning Group found just 27 per cent of the City’s sporting fields were currently utilised at or over capacity, and that more than half were underutilised. It also found that the highest participation rate was in soccer (27.5 per cent) followed by touch football (21.1 per cent) and cricket (13 per cent).

“Understanding and planning for sports and recreation is essential to ensure everyone has sufficient and equal opportunities to live an active lifestyle,” City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said.

“Early research by Otium has found Newcastle will need another seven netball courts by 2031 and that we’ll need to secure additional land for new sporting grounds in the western growth corridor.

“Otium has also raised potential for more partnerships with the City to upgrade grounds, similar to the Mitchell Park grandstand overhaul with Merewether Carlton Rugby Club, and proposes investigation into modern synthetic turf as a potential solution for surfaces prone to damage.”

Other regional plans and neighbouring facilities, including the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036 and the draft Hunter Sport and Recreation Plan (2018-2023) for Broadmeadow’s Hunter Sports and Entertainment precinct, are being considered as part of the process.

Club representatives have been invited to information sessions on the preliminary discussion paper at information sessions today, tomorrow and Thursday, before another is opened to the community at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday from 12 noon.

“Feedback from the discussion paper will be considered by Otium and not the City, with a draft plan not expected to be considered by Council for public exhibition before March next year,” Mr Bath added.

“The discussion paper is the result of preliminary independent research and stakeholder engagement. Ongoing community engagement will be essential in determining the final plan.”

Sports under consideration in the plan include: athletics, Australian Rules, baseball, cricket, croquet, equestrian, football (soccer), netball, rugby league, rugby union, softball, tennis and touch football/Oztag.

Nobbys Beach changing places, changing lives

A trip to the beach is simply part of Australian life. But for Newcastle man Joseph Popov, a visit to the beach is far from simple.

As someone who lives with disability, comfortably making his way to and around the changerooms to enjoy Newcastle’s iconic Nobbys beach has always been impossible.
nobbys2.jpgNow, thanks to City of Newcastle upgrades, the new change rooms include a specialised hoist and bench to cater for mobility-impaired beach goers as well as a new ramp to the lower promenade of the beach as part of a multimillion-dollar coastal revitalisation priority project.

Joseph says these upgrades are a game changer as summer approaches.

“As a Novocastrian, I count myself among the many locals who love going to the beach. You can’t compete with the views and what Mother Nature offers at Nobbys Beach,” the Bachelor of Social Science/Laws student and Community Disability Alliance Hunter (CDAH) Vice President said.
“The new upgrades will definitely encourage me to go to the beach more frequently, whether I need to go to the bathroom or change into Speedos.”
City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, representatives of Surf Life Saving NSW and the Lions Club of Newcastle officially opened the Nobbys Accessible Change Facilities today.

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the project includes a new amenities block with a dual-purpose room containing an accessible toilet and baby change facility. A second room provides an assisted change room with accessible toilet, shower, basin, bench and hoist.
“It’s important that our beaches can be enjoyed by all of our community and these upgraded facilities significantly improve the accessibility of Nobbys Beach,” the Lord Mayor said.

“These most recent upgrades to Nobbys Beach may go unnoticed for many people, however for those with a disability they mean the difference between getting sand between your toes and watching from the car park.

“I sincerely thank our partners, Surf Life Saving NSW, and the Lions Club of Newcastle. By building on partnerships, we create a better community.”
The opening event also incorporated the launch of the Access in the City (AiTC) app, an initiative created by a local startup aimed to improve the city experience for people utilising mobility devices.

Because AiTC has a strong inclusion focus, the platform will benefit people by enabling them to access the city in their own way with information and guidance on their device.

AiTC was the winner of the City’s first ever online mobility challenge. Out of 35 applications from across the globe which proposed ideas for addressing an urban mobility issue in Newcastle, the winning entry was created by a local company.

Man in court over alleged sexual abuse of five-year-old girl – Hunter region

A man will re-appear in court today charged over the alleged sexual abuse of a five-year-old girl in the Hunter region.

In August 2019, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation following reports a five-year-old girl had been sexually abused by a man known to her.

Following extensive investigations, a 45-year-old man was arrested at a home at Cooranbong about 10.30am on Thursday 10 October 2019.

The man was taken to Toronto Police Station and charged with intentionally carry out sexual act with child under 10 years, intentional incite child under 10 years to do sexual act to them, and intentionally sexually touch child under 10 years.

The man appeared at Toronto Local Court last Thursday, where he was formally refused bail to re-appear at the same court today (Tuesday 15 October 2019).

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.