Why do we have local laws?

Last week council adopted new and amended local laws in an effort to keep people safe, make our communities better to live in, and protect buildings and the environment.

Yes, they’re a regulatory tool that can be enforced by either the City of Greater Bendigo or Victoria Police, but the new and amended local laws have been simplified for the benefit of everyone.

The intention was to remove red tape and make the local laws relevant to residents and also the local government sector.

It’s also to ensure a more efficient use of resources.

So, we’ve amended Local Law 10, which focuses on how council administers local laws, how it sets its fees and charges, procedures for approving permits and undertaking enforcement.

There’s also a new Community Local Law, which combines former Local Laws 3, 4 and 5.

This one focuses on how council land is used and maintained, from removing European wasps to outdoor dining, shared use of recreation areas and sale of goods on the roadside or footpath.

It also stops the consumption of liquor in certain areas, which has been expanded from the Bendigo CBD to include the main street areas of Eaglehawk, Heathcote, Elmore, Goornong, Kangaroo Flat and Huntly.

In regards to the Hargreaves Mall, restrictions on dogs, bicycles and skateboards have been lifted. Fido can now enter the mall, provided he’s on a lead.

Under the Community Local Law, council also has the ability to designate an area “smoke free”.

If you’re thinking of burning off, residents doing so on land greater than one hectare will now require a free permit if the fire will be more than 4 metres long by 4m wide by 3m high.

This excludes fires for farming and primary production purposes.

Under local law, residents were already required to obtain a free permit to light a fire on land that is less than one hectare in size.

The new permit aims to reduce the size of fires and ensure proper notification to emergency authorities, saving unnecessary calls to the city and CFA from residents concerned about smoke.

This change should not impact most residents who burn off fallen timber to reduce fuel and fire risk on their property, as the size of the fire allowed without a permit is still quite large.

Most people do not light a fire larger than this, however when it does occur we know there is a greater risk of the fire creating excessive smoke and getting out of control.

Local laws are not intended to upset residents or deter people from doing business or managing their properties, but they are designed to be fair and deliver the best outcomes for our community.