Sign fine dodger off to court

Published 3:00pm 13 September 2023

Sign fine dodger off to court
Words by Jodie Powell

A company accused of dumping waste on Moreton Bay City Council land and a man already fighting fines totaling almost $25,000 for posting signs advertising his business on Council land are among those who will head to court to dispute the allegations.

City of Moreton Bay community and environmental services director Bill Halpin told the August 30 Council meeting a number of people who had been issued with infringement notices had asked the council for the matter to be heard in court, rather than paying the fines.

Mr Halpin said Council had issued 87 infringement notices worth a total of $24,969 to a man between February 24 and April 7 over a proliferation of signs placed on a busy Moreton Bay roadside.

Wilful disregard

A report to Council said the notices were “for the same alleged offence to the same member of the public, who after a reminder has not paid any amount.

“The same party is already the subject of an approved prosecution for earlier alleged offences of the same nature. Despite the infringements and prosecution…the party has shown no willingness to cease the alleged offending behaviour or comply with Council’s local laws.

“Enforcement action has been undertaken because the signs are visually unattractive…; the signs are placed on high volume public roads presenting a public risk to drivers that may be distracted by them; and the person is receiving a financial benefit by not paying the Advertising Device - On Council Controlled Land - Application Fee that other businesses pay.

“The person has previously received multiple cautions, then infringements for the same offence and is currently the defendant in a prosecution for those offences occurring between October-November 2022.

“The person has demonstrated a wilful disregard for Council’s enforcement activities and has chosen to continue the prohibited activity, fully cognisant of the consequences of continuing to undertake a prescribed activity.”

Mr Halpin said the penalty for each offence was $287, but the court, if the man was found guilty, could issue penalties of more than $250,000 because the Act allowed for a maximum penalty of $3,096 for each offence.

“We have an individual who has decided it’s ok for them to do what they want to do in regards to signage,” Mr Halpin said.

“This person is already being prosecuted for 56 offences and that’s currently before the courts and has racked up another 87 offences at the beginning of the year, so again we will see that person ion the Magistrates Court.

“The court, of course, if it decides a person has been difficult, has within its jurisdiction the right to award the maximum penalty of over a quarter of a million dollars for the offences if they have occurred.”

More illegal signs

A company issued with a $7186 infringement notice on December 6, 2022 for illegally dumping less than 2500L of waste and an $862 fine for failing to obey a compliance notice on February 13 will contest the fines in court.

“They have decided they want to have the matter heard in court and we are more than happy to do that,” Mr Halpin said.

He said four people had asked to front court after being issued infringement notices relating to undertaking a prescribed activity without a current approval.

“This matter relates to signage that has been unlawfully installed on council land.

“That ranges from parking vehicles with trailer billboards on them through to free-standing signage.”

Mr Halpin said seven people would face court after they were issued with infringements following investigations into local law breaches, including overgrown properties, and maintaining a proper enclosure for animals.

“We have issued notices asking people to comply and they have refused to do so,” he said.

“That ranges from ‘please build a fence to keep your dog in’ to ‘please take your shipping container off our land’ and then people have failed to comply and we have issued infringement notices.”

Safety first

Three people have asked to face court rather than pay fines for engaging in a prohibited or restricted activity, including allegedly removing Council property from Council-owned land and leaving advertising infrastructure on Council-owned land.

“It’s illegal advertising and even the removal of bollards in Council parks so people can take their vehicles on there,” Mr Halpin said.

“There is a reason we put bollards up and it’s not so you can take them out and take your vehicles onto our parks – it’s not safe for our community.”

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