Please put a stop to Council staff going beyond their delegated authority
Dear Beagle Editor, I read with interest that the Delegations are coming up at the next Council meeting. I posted a story on my Face Book blog site back in December, about many homeless people in the Eurobodalla being evicted from sheds and tents etc (mostly from their own rural blocks)
The story was only aimed at local readers, but it obviously upset a lot of people and kept growing. Now being read by over 180 000 people Australia wide!
A secret meeting was held by the previous council to keep funding these evictions, and the current Mayor Liz Innes (then a regular councillor) was understandably very upset about this at the time, and encouraged me to write about it.
There were 86 cases being dealt with by council staff under what is called ‘delegated authority’. Where staff were given delegated powers to take actions against people without the knowledge or approval of councillors, and also fight court cases with ratepayers money to get convictions.
These delegated powers are now coming up for review by the new councillors. Which means the new councillors now have the opportunity to cut off these much abused delegated powers.
This would then oblige council managers to get approval from councillors for each case individually, and make such widespread abuse of powers far more difficult.
Not to mention potentially saving large amounts of ratepayers money being squandered in the courts. Merely to harass struggling people who are usually doing no harm to anyone? ........................... Here is the original story from my EuroLeaks social media page ..................
Council has apparently begun sending out notices to some of the 33 people living in tents, caravans and sheds (mostly on their own private properties) ultimately seeking evictions. Council management got funding approval for this in a secret meeting from the previous council (before the recent council elections)
Council management ran out of money after pursuing 53 cases prior to the current 33. (I will post part of the leaked council documents showing this in comments below)
It has always been normal for people to live in sheds, caravans and even tents while they work and save to build a home. But new State laws from 2005 allow council to restrict occupation (even on your own land) to a maximum of 2 days at a time, with a maximum of 60 days per year. This is of course contrary to their supposed private property rights (and human rights I suspect?)
There are also cases of homeless people being allowed to camp on farms or in sheds, who are also being harassed or driven off by council. I have met some of these, who are now reduced to living in cars, and one who even had his old car stolen, and had to live in the bush in State forest (before being evicted from there also)
A really disturbing case was leaked to me by a local nurse. A young mother was living in a shed with her three young children, with her husband having to work away most of the time. They were saving to build a home. Then council found out and started their eviction process. The woman apparently became so distressed she tried to hang herself. Staff in the hospital were apparently very upset, but they are not allowed to speak publicly.
So why has the State government and Council made homelessness all but illegal? What harm are they doing to anyone by simply living in a shed, caravan or tent? Is it better for people and families to live in a car? Or hide from authorities in the bush?
As long as they have a porta potty I see no environmental excuses? Homeless shelters are overflowing, and there are none for men.
Many politicians and bureaucrats like to talk about social justice, but their actions (or lack of action) appears to contradict their words.
Our new Mayor Liz Innes was very upset about this at the time (when this was passed by the previous council in secret). The problem is that she may still not have the numbers to stop council pursuing such people?
However, as I understand it, there are three good councilors who would likely support her on issues like this, Councilors Jack Tait, Phil Constable and Maureen Nathan. So if they supported her it would only take one more councilor to break with the others to make a change. Will the greens Councilor or CVE Councilor support this social justice issue?
I am posting this in the hope that councilors can put aside their differences and actually do something to stop injustices.
A good start might be to pull managements secret funding.
I would also like to hear Minister Constance’s position on this? ( P.S. The Minister has never commented) Damien Rogers Moruya