Government organisations make decisions and carry out specific operations through delegated legislation. These entities make laws relevant to the subject matter prescribed by and within the scope of the legislation conferring their authority.
The main legislation affecting Victorian local councils, is the Local Government Act 2020. This provides an extensive statutory framework within which councils must operate.
Local councils are responsible for providing infrastructure within their area, managing resources, recreational facilities and services such as waste collection, levying rates and making decisions that impact upon the local community. It also has powers to maintain and create roads easements and to compulsorily acquire land for a public purpose.
In addition to the above local councils are charged with enforcing planning and building legislation within the municipality. Furthermore, local councils have the power to make their own laws in relation to the good governance of the municipality including regulating local matters e.g. the use of local parks, foreshores, drinking in public, camping in public or private land and even in some local councils the prohibition of smoking in public.
Local Laws are rules made by each individual Council. Generally there are no appeal rights in relation to Local Laws and decisions made under those local laws. Local laws often relate to maintaining councils assets, the use of Council roads and reserves, the use of recreational vehicles on private land e.g. minibikes. Many local laws are introduced by Council’s to maintain public order and health.
These laws are made by local councils in response to local needs. They are advertised locally and you can make submissions. Council will consider those submissions and ultimately introduce a suitable local law. Once local law has been gazetted/adopted you cannot object to it.
Often Council have local law officers who issue infringement notices for breaches of local laws. There are limited means of appealing such infringements or having them reviewed. If you require any assistance in relation to this Kings Lawyers have significant experience dealing with local councils and local laws.
Often Council will conduct interviews about alleged breaches of local laws. If this occurs you should be very careful not to admit to any breach and/or have a legal representative assist you. In some circumstances a negotiated outcome can be mediated with the relevant Council.
Roads, Public Highways, Carriageways & Easements
Councils are vested with the responsibility of maintaining a council road register which carries details of every road within the municipality. Council is responsible for the maintenance and repair of those council owned roads. Often there are carriageway easements or old subdivisional roads shown on plans and people seeking to develop want to rely on those. Often there are arguments about the status of a road, who owns it and whether or not it is a public highway open to everybody.
Also at times easements need to be created to allow access to a development site or to simply provide an alternative means of access or egress to an existing property. Councils have many powers under both the statutory laws and the common law to create and/or altar roads and carriageways. Council also has the ability to end or close a roads and sell the former road to adjoining property owners.
This area of the law is quite complicated and not often well understood by Council officers. If you are trying to negotiate the creation of a road or a variation or closure of an existing road, carriageway easement or the like Kings Lawyers can assist.