Recipients of fire prevention infringement notices will have their fines withdrawn.
East Gippsland Shire Council has made this decision following an internal review of municipal compliance notices this week.
Chief Executive Officer Anthony Basford apologised for the issuing of infringement notices without appropriate consideration. The infringements had been issued across the municipality, during the fire season, including in directly and indirectly fire-effected areas.
“I acknowledge this is not acceptable given the current circumstances and Council has taken immediate action to correct this issue as soon as management became aware,” Mr Basford said.
“I am very aware this matter has caused concern for some community members and we will work with these people to reach appropriate resolution,” Mr Basford said.
Mr Basford said recipients of infringement notices relevant to the 2019-20 fire danger period would be contacted either by phone (where possible and always by appropriate members of Council staff) and/or mail to advise that these fines have been issued outside of expected process.
“Council will withdraw the infringement notices as a matter of urgency (close of business this week),” Mr Basford said.
“Ratepayers will be offered appropriate support to make arrangements to ensure that they are able to meet and maintain compliance requirements for the reminder of the fire season.”
At the declaration of the fire season fire prevention notices are issued across the municipality. These notices provide information and advice regarding requirements to ensure ratepayers’ land is compliant throughout the fire season, including a requirement for grass to be cut and maintained at a particular length.
Ratepayers are provided time to meet compliance requirements and are expected to maintain these throughout the season.
Infringement notices carry an associated fine of $1,652.
Mr Basford said a process has now been implemented that requires all infringements of this type to be approved by management prior to being issued.
“We will continue to work on ensuring that these matters do not arise again in the future.”