No fence sitting for Wellington Shire

WELLINGTON Shire Council is not fence sitting.

It has fallen to the side of not contributing toward the cost of erecting a fence between land it owns and private property.

Council defeated a motion to review council’s policy with a view to changing it to contribute the half the least expensive option to erect a fence between private land and council-owned open space set aside for unrestricted public use, such as reserves with play equipment and seating.

The motion would not have affected council’s policy not to contribute to fencing along roadways, right of ways, drainage reserves or pedestrian walkways.

State and federal governments have similar policies regarding land they own.

The motion had been moved at the August 21 meeting, but a decision was delayed until the councillors had been briefed on the implications of such a policy.

After being briefed council returned to the issue, although councillors Darren McCubbin and Beth Ripper, who moved and seconded the motion, were absent from this week’s meeting.

While private land owners generally come to a share funding agreement for fencing, Cr Gregg Cook said it was “grossly unfair” that an owner was expected to pay the entire cost if their land abutted council land.

“The motion makes sense as it’s about fairness and equity for all ratepayers, that if they happen to reside next to council land and they need a boundary fence, that the cost is shared equally between the council and the resident,” he said.

Cr Malcolm Hole said council had no allowance in its budget for such a change of policy.

“There would have to be other projects put aside which we’ve already approved,” he said.

Cr Scott Rossetti said the public would receive little benefit from the suggested change to fencing policy.

“There’s no real reason, apart from the odd ball, for fencing the public park,” he said.

“Public parks are, by definition, open people can wander into them,” he said.

“The benefit, in my opinion, apart from the odd footy, is for the people who live in those houses.

“They choose to fence those in because that’s the way we like to live in those houses.”

The cost of changing the fencing policy were not completely understood, according to Cr Jeff Amos.

“In four of five week’s time there will be a new council and I’m sure once they get into a position to start looking at their budget for next year, that would be the time to alter this policy, if that’s what they choose to do,” he said.

“They will have full knowledge and be able to set the costs into their budget.”