‘Bureaucracy’ bench wars on popular North Coast beach
LOCALS are livid after self-installed beach benches were labelled as abandoned property by Tweed Shire Council.
The council claimed the “unauthorised structures” disturbed the environment, but confirmed there was no budget allocation to install seats for the community.
Three solid benches have been put along the tree line near the entrance to Salt beach opposite Angourie St for those who walk the beach to sit and enjoy the scenery.
Salt local Peter Davey said it was “bureaucracy at its finest”.
“Someone has spent time and money making these benches for the enjoyment of everyone,” he said.
“They are not in the way of the entry … and council has gone along and put abandoned property stickers on them demanding they be removed.
“Council hasn’t done anything to provide seating.”
The council’s sustainability and environment unit co-ordinator, Jane Lofthouse, said the furniture had been placed on public land without approval.
“In some cases there has also been disturbance to soil and dune vegetation and use of (prohibited) fires,” she said.
“Council staff do periodic inspections of the dunes to clean up dumped material and look for unauthorised items.”
Ms Lofthouse said items were assessed using a hierarchy of criteria for removal.
“Council staff prioritise removal of unauthorised items based on: Public safety, environmental damage including disturbance of soil and/or vegetation, presence of fires and other litter and recently placed items that add to the proliferation of unauthorised structures,” she said.
“There is no current budget allocation for installation and ongoing maintenance of additional beach furniture.
“There are no impediments to people taking camp chairs or similar with them to the beach so long as they are not left there after use and dune vegetation is not disturbed.”
If not collected from the beach, it is understood the council will impound the items and hold them for 28 days.
The benches could then be returned to the owner if the relevant impounding and administration fee are paid and an illegal dumping fines may also be applicable.
Public outcry online has labelled the council’s move a “joke” while others understood people using the benches could harm the sand dunes.