Eyesore crackdown

Owners of notoriously dilapidated buildings across the Latrobe Valley will face tough financial penalties as part of a proposed crackdown by Latrobe City Council.

Under draft changes to council’s Local Law 2, owners or occupiers would face fines of close to $3000 for allowing vacant buildings to deteriorate to a dilapidated state.

They would need to take all reasonable steps to secure the building from trespassers; undertake temporary repairs; prevent it from being a haven for anti-social behaviour and remove graffiti.

If owners fail to carry out these changes, they will be committing a new offence for every month their breach continues.

The community will be able to have their say on the proposed changes, and if adopted, the amendments would run as a six-month trial.

The move follows a push by Moe-based Councillor Sharon Gibson to address resident concerns about notoriously run-down sites.

“The vast majority of owners spend a lot of time and effort trying to make their properties appealing and something to be proud of and when others leave them the way some of them have been left, it brings the whole reputation of the town and the Valley down,” Cr Gibson said.

“You’ve got people using them for all manner of behaviours that are not the most law-abiding.”

However, the vote to give notice of the draft changes was not unanimous, with councillors Sandy Kam, Kellie O’Callaghan and Graeme Middlemiss voting against the motion at Monday night’s meeting.

Cr Kam said while she understood the spirit of the changes, she believed the proposal needed “more robust discussion” and she was concerned council was “slapping a property owner who is the victim of vandalism”.

Cr Middlemiss said he feared under the current definition of dilapidated, small home-owners may get “swept up” in the enforcement of the proposed law.