4 December 2018

Page 11



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Tuesday 4 December 2018

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Shire cleans up messy dog laws

Running free: A group of dogs playing on the leashfree beach at Safety Beach.

Building a fence for summer at The Pillars Keith Platt keith@mpnews.com.au MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is poised to start fencing off access to The Pillars cliff jumping site of the Esplanade, Mt Martha. The 450 metre wire mesh fence will run parallel to the road between Deak-

in Drive and Marguerita Avenue. Classified as a temporary fence, the $200,000 structure has been given the go ahead by VicRoads. Last year the shire failed to get backing for the fence from either the state government of Aboriginal Victoria. This year the shire sought indemnity from the state government after receiving advice that it could be liable for

anyone injured or killed while visiting the popular spot but by last week’s meeting was yet to receive an answer. “We have a duty of care to ensure public safety,” the mayor Cr David Gill said in a news release under the headline “Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Closing Deadly Cliff Jumping Site at Mount Martha”. The news release went on to state

that an “increasing number of young people risk death or serious spinal injury by cliff jumping” from the “highly dangerous cliff site”. “The consumption of alcohol at The Pillars is [also] a major factor related to reported anti-social and offensive behaviour despite [the shire’s] alcohol ban which cannot be enforced,” Cr Gill said. Continued Page 8

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s rangers have been using “conflicting” laws for the past eight years when issuing infringement notices to dog owners. The “discrepancy” was revealed only after “a diligent search of council records”. To clean up its legal blunder council was last month forced to revoke an order gazetted on 11 February 2010. Prosecution officer Gustav Cook, in a report to council’s 9 October meeting, said that despite the “absolutely irreconcilable” orders made under the Domestic Animals Act and adopted in 2007 and 2010, all infringement notices issued under them “remain valid and enforceable”. “Important to note, is that both of the orders are valid, though inconsistent,” Mr Cook stated in his report. The problems with the conflicting dog rules were unearthed during a review of the shire’s leash-free areas. One of the problems (revealed by The News and not the shire’s review “Dogs cleared to use beach” 18/9/18) was illustrated earlier this year when it became clear that shire officers were warning dog owners off at beach at Mt Martha North which was actually part of the leash-free Hawker Beach. The rangers needlessly visited the 70 metre long stretch of sand more than 40 times over the 2017/18 summer. Leash-free signs have been reinstalled at the beach. Mr Cook’s October report to council said dogs were required to be on a leash in public places, except for 63 areas where “this requirement is varied, to prohibit dogs completely or to allow them to be off-leash”. He said council officers would review and audit off-leash and prohibited areas for dogs “including engaging with the public … to address the current issues to control dogs in public places”. Keith Platt

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