Gympie Region Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett.
Gympie Region Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett.

Double jeopardy on public gardens

GYMPIE Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett yesterday denied his council was victimising a group of volunteer community gardeners at Kilkivan.

But he expressed much more sympathy for another distantly-related concern, that residents throughout Queensland could lose their homes if they obey council instructions to mow their footpaths.

That worry was raised by Kilkivan resident Laurie Hilton, who said his insurance company had advised him that it would not cover him for public liability if an accident or injury occurred as a result of his mowing of footpath land outside his property.

Cr Perrett told fellow councillors this week an investigation was needed into the costs of indemnifying residents against the possible consequences of their community efforts.

But, across the railway line, at the old goods shed at Kilkivan Station, Dulcie Hewitt’s volunteers are not getting on so well with council.

“We just want to know what they are doing,” Cr Perrett said of the group, led by Ms Hewitt, who has overseen the early development of botanical gardens on railway land at Kilkivan.

Cr Perrett said council was the responsible controller of the railway land, which it held in trust, and the group had informed council only in general terms of its intentions.

“They haven’t provided us with any proof that they have Queensland Rail permission.

“We need details of every tree they intend to plant so we can monitor the work.

“All we’re doing is trying to protect council’s and the community’s interests,” he said.

“We’ve never criticised the work they are doing or the fact that they have improved the area.

“We’re acting on written complaints and verbal and we need full details of the water feature they plan and the trees.

“There is nothing in writing indicating they have railway’s permission or, if there is, we’ve never sighted it.

“We understand we are the trustee/leasee, so we have a responsibility,” he said.

However, Cr Perrett said the concerns about public liability, raised by Mr Hilton, were of urgent importance.

“I think the gentleman in the paper made some valid points,” Cr Perrett told this week’s council Works and Services Committee meeting. “What do we require? This needs to be clarified.”

Mayor Ron Dyne said he had been contacted by a woman who said her insurance company told her it would cost her an extra $120 a year to be insured against public liability while mowing her footpath.

Council is consulting its insurers, the meeting was told.

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