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Letters to the Editor - October 2017

02 Oct 2017

No quiet enjoyment at dog on-leash park

I am writing to complain about the actions of the Melbourne City Council (MCC).

We purchased our retirement apartment from Mirvac in March 2013. We bought it primarily because the park outside was “leash free” to exercise our two dogs – legally. And we paid a much higher price compare to similar properties that did not have a leash-free park close by.

Since then, MCC has removed the leash-free sign and has commenced fining dog owners for dogs “off lead” on the green.

MCC has said this park was never a designated leash-free park, but has admitted in writing that it was aware of the sign and later removed it! The sign on the edge of Point Part green is clearly by MCC.

No counter sign was introduced at that spot. No consultation occurred in 2013 with Mirvac or Mirvac residents, or the general public. This is against due process and is a damage to remove the original right to exercise our dog – and the fifth animal right to enjoy “normal behaviour”.

Three new signs were only erected at the end of 2015, triangulating and enclosing the newly-established play and barbecue area indicating dogs are on-leash only. The signs were not on the green.

Since the status quo is that most dog owners who visit Point Park green let their dogs off-leash, they are easy prey for the animal management officers (AMOs), who occasionally visit on electric bikes on “pro-active patrols”.

A number of people have been fined and some have sold and moved on as a result. The AMOs think that they are doing a good job by harassing and fining people when in fact they totally mismanage the situation, cause extremely bad public relations and cause a great deal of distress. A lady I know has paid nearly $900 in fines rather than go to court.

I have asked nicely, written letters, applied for reviews, offered to help and joined petitions for MCC to review and return Point Park to official leash-free, all to no avail. The council has been totally intransigent in stonewalling me and usually then passing me on to another department to stonewall me again.

I have now been fined on two occasions for dogs off-leash, but I have refused to pay and will attend court accordingly on November 13, 2017, because no one else will make a stand.

I am pleading “not guilty” and representing myself, but I have now realised that achieving that result would be irrelevant because it will not change the situation, since AMOs are still giving out fines at Point Park and will continue to do so.

The harassment, negligence and damage, caused by the pedantic application of a law and negated by the brief existence of said sign, needs to be rectified or exposed in a different court.

We merely wish to live in quiet enjoyment at Point Park and not have to sell up and move on for the sake of our dogs.

I thus request that you investigate and intercede. Thank you.

John Thatcher

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