Canowindra resident Geoff Yeo has described parts of Canowindra as an eyesore.
Mr Yeo told the town’s council candidates at a public meeting on August 23 parts of the town are an eyesore and asked what they intended to do about it.
Mr Yeo said the eyesores sent a strong message to visitors and people passing through the town that “the town is a dump so don’t stop” and a message to ratepayers that “council doesn’t care”.
The areas Mr Yeo suggested sent these messages to visitors and residents included Shep’s Corner, the Blue Jacket Lookout, vehicles for sale along the roadsides and the surrounds of the Swinging Bridge.
“We’re legally hamstrung,” candidates Anthony Durkin and Kevin Walker, both told the meeting.
I’ve repeatedly asked what can be done,” Mr Durkin said.
“The law is against us going in and cleaning the place up. We have no right to go into someone else’s property unless it is an issue of vermon.
“It’s not a simple case of turning up and saying we’re here to clean up your place.
“Legally, we’re hamstrung,” Mr Durkin said.
Candidate Cheryl Newsom agreed stating she had been told that under the Local Government Act the Council cannot force action unless there is a danger to public health.
“They have all been asked to clean up, it is a long and costly exercise to go through the courts,” she said.
Fellow candidate Jenny Weaver said the problem is not restricted to Canowindra and she believed communication is key to resolving the issue.
“I believe it is a problem across NSW but it is a problem that probably can be resolved by council working with these people, and make them understand why they are causing a problem,” Ms Weaver said.
Kevin Walker added that the residents of Canowindra should band together and take the issue further.
“I have spoken to Andrew Gee and he has suggested we do a petition and take it further,” Mr Walker said.
The problem in Canowindra is no different to other centres, most neighbourhoods have one: the blight of a house with an overgrown yard and junk collection or, in the worst of cases, derelict properties that decay, becoming hazards that attract squatters.
To clean them up, councils have for years been urging the state government to make it simpler for them to issue clean-up notices and respond to lax property owners and hoarders.
Council’s can issue orders if premises or land are in an unsafe or unhealthy condition.
Reducing from five years the time before a development approval must be acted on would also be useful for dealing with derelict buildings.