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Do you agree with Frankston's rubbish bylaw?

Frankston City Council’s policy of fining people who help themselves to hard rubbish has been questioned.

Since 2007, 26 people have been fined under a council bylaw that states a person cannot remove or interfere with any hard waste or recyclable materials placed out for collection.

Frankston lawyer Jason Coppard has questioned the law’s validity.

“I do not believe that the charge of theft could be made out for taking abandoned goods,” Mr Coppard said.

“Where the owner of the goods places them on the nature strip for removal, they are abandoning ownership rights and, therefore, no one owns them, therefore, they cannot be stolen.

“I do not believe (the council bylaw) can effectively cause ownership of the abandoned goods to be passed to council.

“I think the council probably does have the power to regulate how waste collection is to occur and to issue fines to people who breach those regulations.

“Council would no doubt argue that (the bylaw) is based on the issues of safety and preventing rubbish from being scattered.”

A public furore erupted last week when Supt Jeff Forti, of Mooroolbark police, said the idea that hard rubbish on nature strips was the property of a council or a council contractor was a “fallacy” and “urban myth”.

“Whoever takes it, there is no theft involved,” Supt Forti said after police picked up a man who took a vacuum cleaner from hard rubbish. Frankston CEO George Modrich, said the bylaw was in place to prevent “commercial scavengers” profiting at the expense of ratepayers.

“Collection of hard waste is viable for the contractor as they can on-sell items that still have value,” Mr Modrich said.

“The law was introduced to curb commercial scavengers who collect items with value from street after street and profit from this.

“The result of letting this practice occur means that the contractor receives a lower return from collecting hard waste and, therefore council, and hence ratepayers, have to pay more for the hard waste collection.

“The law states that individuals can remove items from hard waste piles with the permission of its owner.

“This allows people to continue the longstanding tradition of turning one person’s trash into another’s treasure.”


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