Council to embark on ‘eyesore’ crackdown

DILAPIDATED and abandoned buildings diminishing the image of the Latrobe Valley will be subject to a crackdown by Latrobe City Council.

Last week council approved to amend Local Law 2 that will see owners and occupiers face fines nearing $3000 for allowing buildings to deteriorate.

Latrobe City councillor Sharon Gibson said the law had taken some time to get up, beginning with her notice of motion three years ago.

“Finally we’ve got in that the government and the council now has the power to actually do something about buildings that are causing such concern in our community,” Cr Gibson said.

Owners of “eyesore” buildings will need to prove they are taking all reasonable steps to secure the building from trespassers; undertaking temporary repairs; preventing the site from becoming a haven for antisocial behaviour and removing graffiti.

Failure to instigate these changes, will be considered a new offence for every month their breach continues.

Since the motion was approved, Cr Gibson said residents had sent through lists of properties that needed addressing in Moe, Traralgon and Morwell.

In Moe, she said the majority of residents had raised concerns about Lavalla Catholic College’s Presentation campus in Newborough, the former Baw Baw Hotel and Moe Courthouse.

Morwell resident and guitar teacher Tony Calabro congratulated the council on passing the law, and was quick to send a list of Morwell’s dilapidated buildings.

This includes the former Morwell Village Twin cinemas, a former arcade in Buckley Street, the Fletcher Jones building on the corner of Church Street and Princes Highway, a block of units at Bridle Road and a home on Hourigan Road.

“As long as I can remember I’ve written to council about dilapidated buildings being an eyesore in the interest of our region,” Mr Calabro said.

He said the law was a small part of lifting the image of the Latrobe Valley, and hoped the move would assist with future investment and job creation.

“People outside the Latrobe Valley see it as a cultural desert and don’t fully grasp this is a region with many assets,” Mr Calabro said.

He said the law also made landlords more accountable.

“They’re happy to make money, but not beautify properties even in the most minimalistic view in the best interest of the town and the best interest of the tenant occupying the buildings,” Mr Calabro said.

The law will be trailed for a six month period for implementation.