Councillor flags town plan strategy to weed out criminals
HOUSES used for drug dealing in Ipswich may well be a thing of the past if the Ipswich City Council gets its way.
Councillor Paul Tully has told the QT that the council "is reviewing whether or not the town plan can be used to take action against these sorts of premises, particularly in residential areas".
"We used the town plan to close down an illegal bikie club at Goodna 18 months ago and we now want to work with the police to permanently close down these illegal operations," Cr Tully said.
A notorious house in Marie St, Goodna, was raided by police last week as part of Operation Lima Quantity and a number of drugs were allegedly found.
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"For years, residents at Goodna have been sick and tired of no-hopers arriving 24 hours a day to buy illegal drugs," Cr Tully said.
"Under the town plan, if we notify the owner premises are being used unlawfully, it then becomes their responsibility to stop the use. An owner is not responsible until they become aware of the situation.
"The owner of this place in Marie St lives in Brisbane. If we can prove a commercial use of the premises, we are able to serve a notice on the owner and then proceed against the owner under the town plan if they fail to stop the unlawful use. It could be anything illegal taking place on the property."
Cr Tully said owners of rental properties where unlawful actions were taking place were mostly unaware of those activities. But the council had a win against bikies in Goodna.
"The bikies had set up a clubhouse and entertainment facility that didn't comply with the town plan," Cr Tully said.
"It was the first time in Australia that we were aware of where the town plan was used to take action against the owner."
Cr Tully said current laws should be tweaked to assist landlords who were lumbered with tenants committing unlawful acts in their homes.
"The Residential Tenancies Act should be amended to give landlords clear and unambiguous power to evict tenants who set up drug houses or illegal laboratories," he said.
"In this particular case (in Marie St), a resident told me that some time back they got on to the owner who told them to speak with the real estate agent ...and the real estate agent told them there was nothing they could do.
"The law doesn't really help landlords."