Bellingen Shire Council’s monthly meeting is on next Wednesday (May 24), but a quick look back on April’s revelations shows the ranger was out and about.
Deputy general manager of operations, Matt Fanning said that for the month of March there were eight companion animals (dogs) seized.
These were captured in Bellingen, Thora, Boggy Creek area and the Urunga area.
Four of the seized dogs were returned to their owners without being impounded.
Four of the seized dogs were impounded. One of the impounded dogs was
released to its owner, one was euthanized and two remained in the pound as at month end.
Looking after the streets, but in another way, it was documented that the ranger handed out 78 Penalty Infringements Notices. A whopping 69 of the parking offences were in Bellingen, three in Dorrigo, and six in Urunga.
The disparity – and sheer number of tickets – did not go unnoticed by the councillors.
Cr Garry Carter asked council if this was a “revenue raising” exercise.
Mr Fanning responded: “The funds go to general revenue … but it should be noted that the funds which are collected go to State Debt recovery. The revenue (to council) comes in slowly .. and it is not a full cost recovery system meaning council does not get all the money raised from the fines.”
Unsurprisingly, the main areas where people were booked were along Church and Hyde streets, and loading zones.
Cr Toni Wight-Turner asked if there had been a changed focus, to which the reply was given the “shared ranger service there was more opportunity and this does lead to improved enforcement”.
But not all the councillors were concerned about the high number of parking fines.
Cr Steve Klipin noted there were “few opportunities to enforce rules”. Cr Jennie Fenton highlighted the number of people who misused disability parking; “badly behaved” and a “high number of people parking in those spots”.
Cr Desmae Harrison said there was no evidence this was “a money grab”, saying “over Easter if they (the rangers) were on duty they would have made a lot more … it was a disgrace … and this needs to be addressed”.
“During the market day, there were near accidents and there should have been more booked, they were doing the wrong thing,” Cr Harrison said.
In addition, three notices were placed on abandoned vehicles, with one in Brierfield, one in Fernmount and one in Bellingen.
The abandoned vehicle was removed from Brierfield and destroyed. A notice was placed on a vehicle for sale in a public place in Bellingen. No mention was made of the fate of the Fernmount car.