NSW Local Council/Government Information(Public Access)Act

Australia's #1 for Law
Join 150,000 Australians every month. Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
FREE - Join Now

Johnny G.

25 July 2018
My family has been involved in a long running and now angry dispute with a Local Council for many years over the failure of the Council to reinstate a driveway access that is not shared with the neighbours who continually block our access.

Before road widening many years ago, we used to enjoy a separate driveway, unhindered by a telegraph pole freshly installed directly across the exit path some years ago.

I have been made aware that following Councils repeated refusal to provide such improved access, my only hope is to approach the NSW Ombudsman for a ruling to direct Council to rectify their, up till now, obstinate stance in refusing to spend any money to widen/improve the entrance access to allow me to enter/exit even if the inconsiderate neighbours/their many social visitors/tradesmen insist on blocking.

The following is a partial extract from what I would call the "mantra" that is repeatedly "trotted out" when I seek from the Council the reason(s) why they refuse to look at carrying out any rectification work:

Dear Mr Gxxxx
90 Cxxxxx Road, Gxxxxx

Thank you for your recent correspondence in relation to the abovementioned property
and concerns relating to access.
As you are aware this matter was reported to the Council meeting held on 16 September
2014 and the following recommendation was made and still stands:
Recommended that the owners of 90 Cxxxxx Road, Gxxxxx be advised that
it is with considerable regret that this Council finds it impossible to improve the
driveway at this location, however, it will seek from the utilities provider a relocation
of the power pole(significantly blocking access) at this location.

Councillors xxxxx& xxxxx

The more recent very extensive renovations carried out by the new owners of the adjoining property has led to tradesmens vehicles continually blocking access over the last few years.

I have on numerous times attempted to engage with Council to establish the reason(s) why they are not prepared to help alleviate the very poor access, made much more critical in need to ensure an ambulance may have unrestricted access at any time in case either my very aged mother or myself(both of us significantly handicapped with potential life threatening conditions) needs it.

I am aware that Council has a "public officer" who is obligated to answer any requests for information under the

Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

Before I make an approach to the NSW Ombudsman, I am attempting to obtain background information from the public officer of the Council as to the reasons for it's decision.

What level of detail can I successfully obtain under the provisions of the GIPA Act?

I am expecting Council to "stonewall" my requests for detailed information, but I want to be "forearmed" with advice as to how much information I can extract from them.

Specifically, I am seeking the discussions that would have taken place by and between individual Councillors in the leadup to the Public Meeting advising us of their adverse decision, and the dollar costings that they were provided with by the Director of Engineering of the Council.

Also, if Councillors considered it a possibility to examine less costly, but still potentially useful, solutions to the more detailed scheme that was presented to them by the Director of Engineering.

Also, the "yea/nay" positions adopted by individual Councillors(I understand that it was a unanimous vote against carrying out any work due to the potential total cost - $20-30k according to other correspondence).

Due to lack of finances(my war widow mother and myself,disabled pension), we are not in a position to pay for professional advice/representation.

I have been in receipt of some basic legal advice from a "community" legal aid organisation but their resources are quite limited.

Can anyone here provide me with some assistance?

It would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. In the near future, I would also like to ask for some informed help in drafting my approach to the NSW Ombudsman.