A BITHRAMERE retiree has slammed the inaction of authorities in dealing with the region’s abandoned cars, saying they’re attracting vandalism and crime and are a risk to public safety.
Graham Meyer says there needs to be clear demarcation lines of responsibility for police or council to expedite the removal of deserted vehicles.
“If the law is unclear then we have to get a politician with a little bit of guts in them to get it sorted out,” he said.
“Police shouldn’t be handicapped ... for fear of being prosecuted for compensation and the same goes for council.
“There’s something wrong. There’s no clear-cut decision that can be made so they keep passing the buck.”
Mr Meyer said an abandoned Mitsubishi Magna sedan, which has sat motionless out the front of Bearfast in Taminda since the October long weekend, is a glaring example of the dangers posed by deserted cars.
The derelict vehicle rests curbside shouldering a power pole and could spell disaster if somebody torched it, Mr Meyer said.
“My concern is, as always, the safety and cost to the community of repeated fires that invariably happen when these things are left for weeks on end,” he said.
“These people are just dumping cars and they become a great source of fire and energy that is going to burn – a power pole in this case – but it could be a property alongside a country road or even a house in a suburban area. You never know.”
Mr Meyer contends police have known about the car since they arrested the driver on the long weekend and council since October 20, but it still sits where it last came to a stop.
“Quite obviously (council and police) put it in the too-hard basket and don’t worry about it,” Mr Meyer said.
But, he added quickly, “my beef’s not with the police”.
“These laws have to be clearly defined so if you come there with a complaint, they can say, ‘yep we’ll have that moved’,” he said.
“We want this thing fixed up by (member for Tamworth Kevin) Anderson to give them extra powers to be able to say ‘get rid of this car’”.
Mr Meyer said local firefighters were also at their wits’ end.
“They’re sick of attending to fires on the side of the road all the time,” he said.
“The crazy thing is, there was a car accident on Daruka Rd and the fire brigade was called out on three separate occasions until it was finally towed away.”
Rural Fire Service Inspector Steve Prior said crews had responded to conservatively about a dozen burnt-out cars in the last six months and those figures did not include car fires attended to by Fire and Rescue NSW.
“It’s an impost upon our volunteers’ time to be attending incidents like this,” he said.
“This has been going on for several years.
“I know that this has been raised a considerable number of times with police and council and both have limitations on their ability to be able to do anything.
“It comes back to not really being anyone’s area of responsibility.
“But it does need to be somebody’s in the interest of the community.”
Mr Anderson said there were legal issues around “breaking into and removing a car just because it’s parked on the side of the road”.
“I’ve spoken to council and police in the last couple of weeks and we are redoubling our efforts to make sure they don’t sit around on the side for too long,” he said.
In a written statement received late yesterday afternoon, Tamworth Regional Council said it became aware of the vehicle last week and had arranged for a contractor to remove the car this week after making contact with the owner in Dubbo, who advised he no longer wanted the vehicle.