A wealthy Melbourne council is under fire after it fined a widowed pensioner for taking her dog onto her own driveway without a lead.
Bayside Council, which covers southern Melbourne suburbs including Brighton and Beaumaris — some of the richest postcodes in the country — fined the woman $288 after a neighbour reported the alleged offence, which involved a Shih tzu named Clarie, according to 2GB.
Dean Hurlston, president of local government watchdog Council Watch, described the incident as “absolutely disgusting”.
“It really goes to the heart of what many Victorians are feeling at the moment,” he told the radio show.
“What’s the role of the council — is it to be a moral crusader and police enforcement agency, or is it to provide service that we all pay good money for and deliver good things?”
Mr Hurlston said residents in the ritzy area, as well as Australia-wide, were becoming increasingly unhappy with their council’s neighbourhood management.
“The residents are loud and clear. They’re not happy with how dirty the streets are, how things are not being maintained,” he said.
“The council is not doing its job. People aren’t satisfied with it … They’re not getting good service and that extends across all councils.”
Mr Hurlston encouraged the pensioner to dispute her fine.
“Go to the Magistrates Court and explain the situation,” he urged.
“Magistrates are often very empathetic, especially to a widow. [Clarie] is probably her companion now.
“It’s really, really immoral behaviour. Judges are usually going to be much more sympathetic and probably let you off.”
He called the incident a clear example of councils buying into “Karen’s whinging” and criticised the neighbour who reported the pensioner’s actions.
“We are all meant to look out for each other. This isn’t that kind of behaviour,” he said.
“It’s really feeding into the narrative that councils are there just to punish people.
“Not good enough.”