Council slammed over latest "attack" on residents

No doubt you’ve heard about the craze of footpath gardening, where residents of a street grow veggies and fruits on the council-owned verges in front of their homes?

Well, one community is facing a battle against their local council over red tape.

The Sunshine Coast town of Buderim has 11 streets taking part in the Urban Food Street program, which was an Aussie first when it began in 2009.

Now, seven years later the Sunshine Coast Council has sent residents a letter demanding they get a permit and $20 million of public liability insurance to be able to continue to grow their footpath gardens.

One of the residents who started the initiative told the ABC the residents were shocked because council officers had been inspecting the project since it began.

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Caroline Kemp said the residents wanted to work with the council to sort the issue out.

“We’re not sure what’s instigated this attack on this neighbourhood at this time, and the residents feel a bit perplexed as to why the council was unable to approach them,” she said.

“The letter asserts that if someone hurts themselves on a verge and that person sues council, then council will sue the homeowner.”

She believes the cost of public liability insurance would threaten the footpath gardens.

The project has reportedly brought joy to many people, including a 90-year-old women who has two avocado trees growing out the front of her home.

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“She engages with people … sitting on her patio in the morning, she will talk to people going past,” Ms Kemp said.

“At 90 she’s not applying for a permit, she’s not taking out public liability insurance, so immediately — unless the community would pick up that expense for her — she’s excluded.”

Read more: Community spirit to grow in the garden on the foothpath

You might be wondering what the council has to say for itself?

Well, according to one councillor public safety has to come first.

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Division 7 councillor Ted Hungerford told the ABC some of the gardens had been over planted and were become “obstacle courses and hazards for people using it”.

“In some instances people can’t even walk along the verge and they’ve got to walk along the road,” he said.

“Cars and people don’t really mix.”

He said the permit system would be free, and would allow council staff to work with residents on where they could plant the gardens to make sure people could still walk on the footpath.

According to Cr Hungerford, the council wants them to continue the project in way that’ll be safe for the whole community.

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Apparently, some of the residents could have the public liability insurance through their home insurance – according to the councillor.

The council has been slammed on the ABC News Facebook page, with people describing the rules as “nonsensical” and “out of touch”

The news comes just months after the Brisbane City Council relaxed the guidelines surrounding allowing residents to plant footpath gardens.

What do you think about this? Is it a case of red tape going too far? Or should the residents be required to get the permit and insurance?