Many of the proposed amendments to the review of the Local Law No 2 constitute significant overreach by council. We understand some of the sentiment behind various amendments but the blanket prohibition that they represent is detrimental to the basic freedoms of Hepburn shire citizens and to the climate adaption practices that residents and the council will need to aspire in order to realise the ambitious goals of the Hepburn shire’s Z-net program over the next 10 years and beyond.
Specific issues in the draft we would like to address are tabled below:
|Clause||Issues and recommendations|
A person must not without a permit:1. (a) sell, offer or display for sale any goods or services from a public place; or2. (b) erect, place or in any other way, leave any structure or physical thing in a public place for the purposes of selling, displaying or offering for sale any goods or services
|This clause would prohibit many of the roadside stalls that naturally occur within the shire selling home produced goods such as flowers, preserves, plants, vegetables, horse manure etc.
These activities are essential to future adaptions for food security by creating spontaneous and creative pathways for food trading and home production. Council should develop guidelines that allow such activities in a safe manner.
|2.18 A person must not, without a permit, remove firewood, including dead trees and fallen branches, flowers, other vegetation or fruit from a road reserve or Council land, unless permitted to do so by Council signage.
|This clause is particularly far-reaching and would prohibit the collection of wild fruit from shire wide naturalised fruit trees such as apples, plums, blackberries and mushrooms.
The collection of wild and naturalised fruit has been a long standing activity in the shire and provides a staple supply of food that would otherwise go to waste. Foraging and mindful use of local food resources is essential to long term climate adaption mitigation and will play an essential role in future food security.
Many local weeds and flowers have substantial uses in the home and their removal from roadsides would not constitute a threat to residents and in many cases their removal would be beneficial to the roadside landscape.
Similarly, the removal of dead trees and fallen branches by local stewards of the area can play an important role in keeping public places safe from bushfire risk and creating greater amenity of the road reserve.
The implication that these activities conducted on roadsides constitute a risk to the community is an overreach and the prohibition has a disproportionate impact compared to the perceived risk; walking on the roadside could easily be as risky as stopping to pick some flowers or remove a few branches of kindling.
This clause should be removed completely, or amended to state that the activities are only prohibited in certain signposted areas for a particular reason.
|2.5 Festivals, Carnivals and Circuses
2.5.1 A person must not, without a permit, conduct a festival, carnival, circus, parade or other similar activity in a public place.
2.5.2 A person, must not, without a permit, hold a street party, festival, procession, or event, in a public place.
|2.5.2 is unnecessary and appears to repeat 2.5.1 but with the addition of similar words.
‘Street party’ and ‘event’ should be removed as they are too vague and could potentially cover a wide variety of informal chats and gatherings of neighbours that are beneficial to social cohesion.
|4.2.2 The owner or occupier of land must not, without a permit, camp, or allow or suffer any other person to camp, on the land:
(a) in a manner that causes a nuisance; or
(b) for any more than 4 consecutive weeks; or (c) for any more than a total of 3 months in any calendar year.
|The lack of affordable housing in the shire has caused significant housing stress to many local residents. Unless council can significantly address housing shortage through regulation of short term rental accommodation and other initiatives, then (b) should be removed as this is often a last resort for residents experiencing homelessness. Clause (a) is enough to mitigate against any adverse impact that camping on private land is expected to have.|
A person must not, without a permit search through or remove any articles of rubbish, recyclables or items from a Transfer Station or left for collection in a public place.
|Items left for collection in public place include free food at community gardens which should be encouraged. Items reclaimed and recycled before being discarded reduces waste for council and should also be encouraged.
The tip has been an immensely important resource for many wishing to repurpose and reuse valuable materials that would otherwise go to landfill and cost council money to dispose of.
In line with recent waste management initiatives by the shire – council has a responsibility to ensure that the transfer station is doing all it can do save materials from landfill. If the transfer station is safe for the public to drop-off materials, how is it not safe for the public to pick-up materials?
If many activities outlined in the local law draft document are to be allowed with a permit, then the process and application for these permits needs to be clearly outlined on the council website and the process made simple and affordable. If there is not a process to allow permits for certain activities, then these activities should not be prohibited unless there is a clear and specific reason to do so.
Council needs to be a lot clearer about the risks it is trying to mitigate against in introducing these amendments that significantly curtail the freedom of residents and their ability to adapt to future hardships – specifically the threats of climate change, food insecurity and increasing economic inequality.
A more innovative approach would be to review best practice in other local government councils and to work with existing sustainability groups in the shire, as well as with the Z-Net project roundtable to create guidelines which allow low carbon alternative practices within the framework of the local law.