Council increases staff to tackle “unprecedented” compliance complaint backlog

Kevin Crameri in Llandilo. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Penrith City Council is increasing resources to crack down on residents who may be impacting the community and environment in a negative way.

In a Notice of Motion at the most recent Ordinary Meeting, Councillor Kevin Crameri asked for a report on the staffing levels and resourcing of the Environmental Health and Compliance Department.

Crameri said when he has raised issues, he has been met with the response that there was not enough staff to investigate.

“There have been many cases around Llandilo and right across the city of people doing the wrong thing when it comes to building or even loading truckloads of dirt, which diverts waterflow and causes flooding on other properties,” he told the Weekender.

“There is dumped rubbish or properties loaded with shipping containers, buses, boats and rotting junk that neighbours have to put up with it because Council can’t follow it up.”

Councillor Ross Fowler shared his support, saying Council did need to concentrate more on the area.

“There has been a number of issues, with some stemming from the advent of Western Sydney Airport and for want of a better description, ‘cowboys’ out there that think they can do anything, anytime, anywhere,” Fowler said.

“We definitely need to be more proactive as a Council as there are issues that have come to my attention which are completely disregarding Council orders, Council officers and Development Applications that have been made and refused.

“We really need to act quickly, effectively, and efficiently or there will just be more of it.”

In a memorandum issued to Crameri by Acting Director Development and Regulatory Services Greg McCarthy, it acknowledged there was an increase in reports of unlawful activity.

“Council’s Development Compliance team has faced an unprecedented number of investigations over the last three years,” the memo said.

“This increase has been attributed to the increasing development within the Penrith LGA, COVID-19 impacts, increased numbers of residents working from home, and the recent successive extreme weather events.”

It stated that a business case for four additional staff was submitted in late 2022 and approved to have an impact on the workload.

“The additional resources will bring the immediate workload under control, as well as providing a sustainable ongoing capacity to manage the higher compliance workload,” it said.

“Recruitment for the additional staff has commenced and all staff are expected to be in place by the end of March 2023.”

Crameri said he hopes to see issues being prioritised and dealt with.

“I welcome that they are hiring more staff, but I am disappointed that it will take to the end of March to get them,” he said.

“I hope there it will be enough to handle the backlog of issues within 12 months.”

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