Council set to contribute to fencing costs

WELLINGTON Shire Council is set to contribute toward the payment of fencing between recreational land it owns and private property.

After two attempts, the issue came back to council with it passing a motion to conduct a review into its policy, with a view to changing it to contribute toward fencing between private property and council-owned open space with play equipment and seating.

There would be a no change to council’s policy for council contributions to fencing along roadways, right of ways, drainage reserves or pedestrian walkways.

The issue was raised on August 21, but laid on the table until council was briefed on it.

When it was lifted from the table on September 18, councillors Darren McCubbin and Beth Ripper, the mover and seconder of the original motion, were absent.

Sale resident Marty Tanzer, who has had issues with council not contributing toward a fence between his property and a park, said amending the fencing policy was a “fair and right thing to do”.

“This council prides itself, and rightly so, in the fair way it deals with issues in the community,” he said.

“I see this as another way of continuing this,” he said.

“As a private citizen, I am required to share the cost of fencing with my neighbours, however, by law, the same rules does not apply to council.

“There are numerous councils in Victoria, including our neighbour Latrobe City, who share the cost of a standard fence replacement with a neighbouring private property which are adjacent to play equipment, seating and other amenities.

“Until 2005, Wellington also shared the cost of fence replacement for citizens whose property is adjacent to playgrounds, etcetera.”

Mr Tanzer said council estimated the change of policy would cost $17,500, which equated to 0.025 per cent of its annual budget, compared with 0.031 per cent of Latrobe City Council’s budget.

Cr McCubbin said it was important to have clear delineation between public and private land, particularly when safety was considered.

“It is in council’s best interest to make sure there is a strong and vibrant fence between a householder and a play space,” he said.

“Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also the best thing to do.

“It gives us good public policy.”

“It’s only appropriate and fair that we differentiate between our land and their land.”

Cr Peter Cleary said council paying for fencing would be a starting point in dealing with fairness.

“Think of it as a big block of cheese that’s the unfairness doesn’t mean we don’t start nibbling,” he said.

“That’s what we’re doing here.”

Cr Patrick McIvor pointed to potential long-term issues.

“There are lots of small decisions which are easy to say ‘yes’ to, but lead to big expenses and higher rates,” he said.

“It’s easy to say ‘yes’ to $17,500, but there might be 10 other decisions similar to this that we might also say ‘yes’ because it’s easy and that could add up to $150,000.”

Cr Malcolm Hole said people buying a property abutting council land should be aware of their responsibilities regarding fencing.