Abandoned shopping trolleys have long been a major problem on the Central Coast, with reports of impacts on public streets, parks and waterways pouring in from all over the region in recent months.
Residents will no doubt welcome the introduction of a new Bill in State Parliament which, if passed, will see owners and others made responsible for private property left in public facing harsh penalties if they don’t remove them within risk-based timeframes.
Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, said the Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Act 2021 would finally hold owners responsible.
“These tough new laws provide councils, other public land managers and police with stronger powers and penalties to rid our footpaths, streets, parks, bushland and waterways of abandoned and unattended property,” Hancock said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of our public spaces to communities across the state and these future-focused laws will ensure they are safe, accessible and enjoyable for generations to come.”
The new laws apply not just to shopping trolleys, but also to items such as unregistered and abandoned cars, unattended trailers and stray stock.
“We are sending a clear message to owners and those responsible for items and animals left in public places – if they don’t do the right thing, they face on-the-spot fines, higher court penalties, rapid seizure action and enforcement orders,” Hancock said.
“This real and meaningful change will help address the perennial problem of abandoned and unattended shopping trolleys, which are a nuisance and blight on our public spaces not to mention a safety risk.”
The new laws also demand owners take quick action to remove unregistered, abandoned and unattended cars and trailers causing problems in residential streets, particularly in urban areas where parking is scarce.
In rural communities, stronger powers and penalties will help prevent stray stock wandering onto roads and causing tragic accidents.
The strong stance is expected to save NSW councils and communities more than $10M a year in clean-up costs.
“These new laws resolve key concerns our communities have been raising for years and years,” Hancock said.
Under the new laws supermarkets would face an on-the-spot fine of $660 for failing to collect a shopping trolley from a public place within three hours of being notified it is causing an obstruction or safety risk, or withing four days of being given notice if left unattended for seven days or more in a public place.
A further 10 per cent ($66) would be added to the fine for each additional trolley in the same spot (up to 11 in total).
Individual retailers would face a court-imposed penalty of up to $2,750 and a maximum of $13,750 for corporations for more serious offences.
Exemptions would apply for small businesses with less than 25 trolleys.
Owners of unregistered vehicles including cars, boat trailers and caravans left in public places would face an on-the-spot fine of $660, a court penalty of up to $2,750, and/or have their vehicle impounded.
Owners of animals (other than cats and dogs) who have acted negligently would face an on-the-spot fine of $660 for an animal that gets out and strays on neighbours’ properties or onto public roads or places with fine increases for multiple animals.