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Taking rubbish OK says Kingston Council

Kingston residents are free to help themselves to discarded hard rubbish.

Following the furore over police plans - later abandoned - to charge a pensioner with theft after he took a vacuum cleaner from a nature-strip rubbish pile, Kingston Council said it was happy for ratepayers to reuse and recycle.

Mooroolbark police initially told Trevor Flood, 58, he would be charged with theft but later said it was unlikely they would prosecute him.

Kingston Council said it did not object to residents taking items from hard rubbish for personal use, but it was an issue when scrap-metal merchants collected large numbers of items to on-sell.

“In these cases, the council’s waste collection contractor loses income that they would have made by selling the scrap metal,” a council spokeswoman said. “This costs ratepayers as contractors increase their fees to recoup this loss of income. Legally, once items have been placed and left on the nature strip for hard-rubbish collection, they are the property of council.”

In the past few years, five scrap-metal merchants have been fined $100 for breaching local laws governing hard-waste collection.

“Council supports the reuse of household goods, whether that be by donating to charity or by people taking one or two items from hard rubbish, as it benefits the community and reduces landfill,” the spokeswoman said.

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

“Whoever takes it, there is no theft involved,” he said.

His comments sparked community debate and demands for councils to clarify their positions.


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