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Brothel busters ‘on beat’ Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au A CALL from councils to bolster policing of illegal brothels masquerading as massage businesses has been answered by the state government insisting existing resources are enough to crack down on dodgy operators. Kingston Council won backing from councils across Victoria at a Municipal Association of Victoria state council meeting in October to urge the Labor state government to set up a taskforce to tackle massage parlours offering illegal extra services (“State brothel busters call wins support”, The News 25/10/17). Victorian Police Minister Lisa Nev-

ille has responded by saying Victoria Police’s Sex Industry Coordination Unit (SICU) established in 2012 has “a specific focus on disrupting illegal brothel activities”. Kingston mayor Cr David Eden, representing council at the MAV meeting, has said council appreciates police efforts to investigate illegal brothels but ratepayers are increasingly copping bills of about $3000 each time council hires private investigators to bust illegal brothel operators. Council revealed five massage parlours across Chelsea and Mentone have been caught recently offering extra illegal services and five others are under investigation. “I am aware of the local community’s concerns around alleged unli-

censed brothels, and police are working closely with the industry, state and federal authorities to investigate and disrupt illegal brothel activity,” Ms Neville said in a statement. “We have always said we will give Victoria Police the powers and resources needed to keep Victoria safe. This area is no exception.” The SICU was formed five years ago under the former Coalition state government headed by then premier Ted Baillieu. Victoria Police said local police work with the SICU on illegal brothel cases. “The investigation and response to illegal activity in the sex industry – as with any industry – is delivered by local police, resulting in a state-wide

response to the issue,” Victoria Police spokesperson Hannah McDonald said. Ms McDonald said Operation Visita representatives meet with and inform operators of suspected unlicensed brothels that the provision of sexual services without a licence is an offence in Victoria. Operation Visita is a joint SICU, Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration and Border Security operation. The state government advised police charged 19 offenders with 43 offences in 2016-17 related to illegal sex work. The Victoria Police SICU was initially staffed by a handful of officers. Victoria Police would not disclose the number of officers working in the unit for operational reasons.

‘Dunny debate’ finally at end

Damage done

BURGLARS caused $2000 damage to a roller door when using a jemmy bar to break into a Parkdale garage, overnight Monday 23 October. They also damaged fuses when turning off the electricity supply to the Evans St property.

Safe taken

THE long-running debate over demolishing the Granary Lane toilet block in Mentone has come to an end after councillors voted to keep the existing building but close it to the public. The public convenience has been an inconvenience and drain on council resources for the past few months. Councillors have discussed the toilet block’s fate at several council meetings and have pored over council officers’ reports recommending the building be demolished to make way for a new modern public toilet building. Debate over mosaic artwork on the Granary Lane loo’s exterior — fastened to the mid 1980s built building in 2002 by unemployed volunteers — being valuable “public art” meant councillors were divided on knocking down the building. A compromise was agreed at the

23 October public council meeting. Councillors decided to save the Granary Lane block from demolition but voted to close its doors to the public after a new toilet block is built at 42 Florence St. “I think this is the best compromise we can get. Most councillors don’t want to see the toilets remain open,” Cr Rosemary West said at the meeting. Cr Tamsin Bearsley was a sole dissenter against closing the Granary Lane loos, saying several people who live and work in Mentone have made it clear they want the toilet block to stay at its current location. “They are well used, they aren’t in good condition, I get that, but I actually think the location seems to work for the residents of Mentone,” Cr Bearsley said.

A modern Mettros built public toilet will be installed “against the wall” at 42 Florence St “opening west into the carpark” nearby. A council officers’ report tabled at the latest council meeting noted this option means “the loss of passive surveillance and public safety, particularly from central Mentone” and extra works to connect the new toilet block to power, water, sewer and storm water connections on the western side of the car park. The decision to keep the mosaic clad toilet block building intact at Granary Lane and install west facing Mettros restrooms will cost about $155,000 against a cost of $105,000 if the original toilet building was demolished. Neil Walker

Losing loos: The Granary Lane toilets in Mentone will be closed to the public when new facilities are built. Picture: Gary Sissons

Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au

split with councils across Victoria by investing an extra $112.6 million each year towards the SES units across the state. Kingston mayor Cr David Eden said council will continue to support the Chelsea and Moorabbin SES units and thanked volunteers for their efforts helping the community in times of need. Council provides about $117,000 worth of in-kind support for both units’ accommodation. “Kingston Council will be proud to continue its other support to ensure our local SES units are supported,” Cr Eden said. “Our local SES volunteers do an

incredible job helping those in need and Council is pleased to support them in their great work.” Chelsea SES spokesman Phil Wall noted Kingston Council had never wavered in its support for local crews. Some other councils pulled funding last year before the state government announced it would end the 50-50 funding split with local government and pick up the total funding tab. “The City of Kingston pledged their ongoing support of our unit last year when there was a lot of uncertainty regarding SES funding by some local councils,” Mr Wall said. “This simply confirms that they

intend to stand by the promises that were made back then which is fantastic.” Chelsea SES controller Ron Fitch said the unit has “a great relationship” with council. “It is wonderful to have the certainty that these funds deliver, especially when added to their tangible support and working partnership, involved in the construction of the new Chelsea headquarters,” he said. The state government confirmed in its May annual budget that $2.8 million is on its way to build a new base on the corner of Nepean Highway and Station St, Aspendale for Chelsea area state emergency services.

A SAFE containing a quantity of cash and jewellery was stolen from the bedroom of a Patterson Lakes house, Tuesday 24 October. Thieves also stole an iPhone and a tablet from the Shell Court house. The total value of the haul was $4100.

Burglars active

State emergency costs are covered THE tab for some funding provided by ratepayers to state emergency services units will now be picked up by state taxpayers. Kingston Council will no longer contribute about $16,000 annually to Chelsea and Moorabbin units of the SES but the state government will ensure there is no overall loss of funding from the 2017-18 financial year onwards. Council is ending the funding from ratepayers since the state government decided to axe a 50-50 funding

Police patrol

A LASER level valued at $1400 was stolen from the garage of a Lawrence Avenue, Aspendale property overnight, Wednesday 25 October. In the same street about the same time, power tools and microphones valued at $10,000 were stolen from a van parked in a neighbour’s driveway.

Plates the target

POLICE are recommending motorists use one-way screws after number plates were stolen from cars parked in Golden Avenue and Bath St, Chelsea, and from two cars in Ivan Avenue, Edithvale, overnight Tuesday 24 October.

Showrooms targeted

THIEVES stole a variety of items from four adjoining factory showrooms in Braeside, 1.07am, Saturday 28 October. CCTV footage shows two men rifling through cupboards and stealing quantities of razor blades, electric toothbrushes, vitamins, two laptops, and a cash box from the Jarrah Drive premises. One is described as wearing dark jacket and long pants, the other long pants and a light-coloured jacket.

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1 November 2017  

Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News 1 November 2017