Maribyrnong Council Ignores Ombudsman Over Elderly Fines

Maribyrnong City Council has ignored recommendations from the Victorian Ombudsman to repay unjust parking fines for pensioners- and also failed to advise residents about the investigation.

The actions criticised by the Ombudsman occurred in 2017 when five disabled pensioners, most of them elderly, were fined by Council for failing to display a disabled parking permit while parked in a disabled parking space.

They each had permits and for various reasons, had not displayed the permits on the car dash. Each asked Council to revoke the fines because of exceptional circumstances and Council refused.

Five legal aid services from the western suburbs supported the pensioners in their complaint to the Ombudsman

WEstjustice told the Ombudsman, "Maribyrnong’s system for administering internal review applications is unfair, arbitrary (and) overly rigid.”

The Ombudsman launched an investigation in 2017. The investigation found that..

“Maribyrnong Council had acted in a way that was unjust by refusing to cancel parking fines in cases where ‘exceptional circumstances’ justified cancellation….and the council’s practices were lacking in fairness and discretion when compared with five other metropolitan councils.”

The Ombudsman recommended Council make ex-gratia payments to all the pensioners.

Council only paid one.

Not only did Council act unfairly and ignore recommendations for repayments, Council has failed to tell residents about Ombudsman investigation.

An electronic search of Council minutes and the Council website reveals nothing about an Ombudsman investigation into MCC, let alone any of the recommendations.

Where is the leadership? Where is the transparency? The responsiveness? These are values MCC promotes, yet fails to demonstrate.

The reason for reporting a seemingly old issue is that the Council is virtually the same now as it was in 2017. The only change has been one new Councillor, appointed in January 2019.

That’s all.

The CEO who has charge of all operational matters for Council, remains the same. In fact Councillors confidentially awarded the CEO a payrise in 2019 and renewed his contract for another five years without advertising the position.

So, what else has been swept under the mat? What else is Council keeping secret?

Will we know what we need to know before we’re forced to vote in Council Elections on October 24th?

Credit: Tha

nks to MCC resident for bringing the Ombudsman’s report findings to my attention.

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