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Manningham council kills off native wildlife and causes fire hazard

Media release dated 11 March 2003

Contrary to media claims by Manningam Council that it is a green council, the facts are that Manningham's bureaucrats are actively killing off native species and promoting feral pests.

The council is also knowingly creating fire hazards in areas at risk such as Park Orchards.

The latest example of this bloody-minded behaviour comes from the council's refusal to allow a property owner (Raymond and Shireen Hoser) to remove some dangerous Pine trees (Pinus radiata) that have roots that are digging up a neighbor's property and creating a fire hazard.

The cluster of 20 odd trees, situated on the boundary of 488 Park Road and 1 Granard Avenue, all have a dangerous lean and some are dead or dying.

The owner of 488 Park Road lodged an application with council to remove the trees due to the fact that they pose an ever-present risk to the safety of the owners of both properties.

Not only were there no objections to the application, but all local residents spoke in support of the application.

Council also received letters in support of the proposal from other land-holders in the area, keen to plant native trees in order to promote local wildlife.

Pine trees are native to North America and are not utilized by native birds. Instead, pests such as Indian Myna birds utilize them as bases from which to attack native species.

As a result, Manningham council are in effect promoting feral pest species at the expense of local wildlife.

When seeking to remove the feral Pine Trees, landowners at 488 Park Road were told twice by Manningham Council people that Pinus radiata is a rare and endangered species (one of these conversations was taped!), which is an obvious lie.

Because Pine trees drop copious amounts of highly combustible needles, they are also a fire hazard and as a result a severe fire risk exists in this part of Park Orchards.

Pine Trees also sap the ground of water and prevent other plants from growing. The bare ground provides refugia for feral rabbits which can then dig into the open dirt.

Council have acknowledged that rabbits are a pest in Park Orchards and yet it is their own actions that have created the problem.

Some weeks back a pine tree fell across Park Road adjacent to where the present trees stand.

The tree destroyed a car passing underneath and Park Road was blocked for several hours.

Also recently, a person was killed in Maroondah after the council refused permission to remove a tree known to be a hazard.

That Manningham council employees know that they are lying in relation to Pine Trees and their alleged benefits (rare and endangered and a haven for native wildlife), it seems that the council really do know how much of a hazard they really are.

On their own land, they are engaged in an aggressive Pine Tree removal program. 100 Pine Trees were removed by council and Melbourne Water from their own Ruffey Lake Park in the last three weeks.

The council alleged that they were eroding a creek bank.

Council told media that they intended revegetating the area with native plants.

And yet they refuse to allow the property owners of Park Orchards to do the same.

On the street immediately adjacent to these (above-mentioned) properties (Kebun Court) council workers removed about 20 Pine Trees due to fears that they'd fall onto persons or property and the fear that council may be forced to pay claims.

Along Park Road in the Alan Moreton Reserve, the council have ring-barked most if not all the remaining Pine Trees.

Meanwhile at ground level, the council have allowed much of the reserve to become a breeding ground for weeds such as Blackberries, Wandering Jew and the like.

Council bureaucrats would readily "bust" private landholders who allowed such severe infestations to occur on their land.

Worried about claims from falling trees, Vicroads last week announced that it too was removing 24 Pine Trees on it's land adjacent to Park Road (behind Savaris Court).

When owner of 1 Granard Avenue, Sid Griffiths showed council bureaucrat Paul Goodison the severe and costly structural damage to his property caused by the surface moving Pine roots, Goodison denied that the damage was caused by the trees and called Griffiths a "silly old fool".

Another bureaucrat, Ms. Natasha Swan has repeatedly refused to engage in anything remotely resembling a civilized dialogue and was also rude and abusive to both the Hoser's and the Griffith's.

She said council would ignore the three separate professional reports obtained by the landholders from independent persons (at the landholder's cost) calling for the trees to be removed due to their hazardous nature.

None of the reports (which cost a lot of money to commission in the first instance) claimed that the trees were in any way 'significant', endangered or worth retaining.

It seems that council bureaucrats are creating their own "problems" to create unnecessary work and in effect to justify their own dubious existence.

The plot thickens when it's noted the continual barrage of lies coming from council bureaucrats.

When visiting the Park Orchards address, bureaucrat Natasha Swan claimed that "everyone in Park Orchards wants to keep the Pine Trees", she was rebutted by Pat Griffiths of the Park Orchards Ratepayers Association, who said that in 20 years with the group, she'd never met anyone who wanted to keep them.

Another bureaucrat, Ms. Jennifer Middleton and fellow bureaucrat Paul Goodision both claimed to be Park Orchards residents, but when asked where exactly they lived, Swan retorted "it's none of your fucking business".

A check of the electoral rolls revealed that both had lied as not only don't they live in Park Orchards, but they don't even live in the municipality of Manningham!

Swan appears to be a criminal law-breaker and is not even registered with the electoral commission or on any electoral roll!

The offence carries a $1,000 fine.

A local councilor, Pat Young, is also apparently not allowed to be in her position either.

Living in Bradley's Lane Warrandyte, she is apparently ineligible to stand as councilor for Manningham, even though she's held that position for some years. You must either live in an electorate (Municipality) or own property there to be eligible to stand for council. Young does neither!

She doesn't work in the municipality either. Her work (Paraquad Victoria) is based in Collingwood!

Young is on the record claiming that Pinus radiata is an endangered species!

Who is she kidding!

The Maninham CEO, a career bureaucrat by the name of John Bennie has been recorded saying that people move to Park Orchards for the Pine Trees in the area. To most observers, this would be akin to saying several million people moved to Queensland to be with the Cane Toads!

Bennie and other bureaucrats at Manningham council have made it clear that he has no concern for the continuing damage the trees are doing to the structure and amenity of the neghbor's property (Sid and Pat Griffiths). Bennie and other Manningham bureuacrats have told the Griffiths to "shut-up" in relation to the falling branches, leaves and the fact that the trees are digging up their house building structures. But they refuse outright to sign a statement undertaking to pay for the damage caused to the Griffith's property by the trees, or the $50 a month they pay someone to remove pine needles from their house roof gutters.

Media are invited to attend either of the above named addresses to photograph the dangerous leaning and dead pine trees and to take photos.

Further inquiries at: 0412 777 211 or 9812 3322

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