UPPER Hunter Shire Council which has claimed it is not liable for their white ant riddled tree damaging Verona Bruin’s house, has now also refused to hand over the information she is entitled to, which may prove Council’s negligence.
UPDATE: A Current Affair back in town.
The Council has claimed it had no idea there was a problem with the tree, despite complaints from Verona, the previous house owner and the neighbours.
Verona has asked Council for the information pertaining to the tree complaints, which she is entitled to under the law, but Council has refused to hand it over.
scone.com.au took Council to the New South Wales Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for breaching information laws and won both matters, we will be publishing all the details on those matters soon.
John Preston, who represented scone.com.au in NCAT said this is just another example of the Council denying people access to information they are entitled to under the law.
“Council is doing its usual chicanery with people’s right to access information they already own,” said Mr Preston.
“If this Council met its governance standards in the street, the two wouldn’t recognise each other!” he said.
“This is the Council’s appalling attitude towards public information on display again and you really think they would have learned this lesson by now, they didn’t just get a thumping with the two matters taken to NCAT, they got annihilated,” he said.
“But once again they have fallen short of the standards required under the law,” he said.
Verona applied for the information on August 17 and Council had 20 working days to provide her with the information, but it is now 40 working days and she has not received the information and they’ve said they want to take another 10 days.
Verona was also frightened Council will send her a sizeable financial bill, claiming they may charge her $30 per hour in a matter which has already taken 40 days.
“They have said they will charge me $30 per hour and they haven’t said how many hours they will take to get the information and this has dragged out so long I am worried there will be a big bill I won’t be able to pay,” said Verona Bruin.
John Preston said such a tactic with a pensioner was deplorable.
“If Council charge Verona anymore than $30, then it has to provide a detailed breakdown of the processing charges and if it was more than an hour, then you’d have to wonder why Council would need so much time for such a simple request; it would make me suspect their information systems aren’t compliant with the law either,” he said.
Verona was so worried about the fees Council may charge her, she thought about withdrawing the application, but after further advice she has not withdrawn the application and will be taking the matter further.
(Scone.com.au will be publishing stories on the two matters Council lost in NCAT soon).