Melbourne residents who own properties in Colac Otway Shire will soon be able to apply for a letter of approval to travel to clean up before fire season, through an online form system, dependant on advice from the State Government.
Colac Otway Shire Chief Executive Peter Brown welcomed the State Government’s clarification of guidelines around Melbourne residents visiting Regional Victoria while COVID19 Restrictions were in place, after several weeks of confusion and concern for non-resident ratepayers.
“We can understand Melbourne residents’ concerns with the potential condition of their properties which they have been unable to visit,” Mr Brown said.
“However Colac Otway has received high rainfall and currently there is minimal fire risk, so we could not issue Fire Prevention Notices, which are legal documents, and officers will not start fire inspections until mid-November, as scheduled.
“Council expects to issue these letters of approval, when validated, along with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer and Victoria Police as soon as possible in accordance with State Government direction.
“There will be no charge for the approval letters, however there will be considerable cost and resources to Council to put the necessary system in place to take information, validate details against rates notices, and issue notices.
“There have been many challenges for Council to support our community, businesses and ratepayers through COVID19 restrictions and outbreaks, and the issuing of travel permission letters will be the next challenge to deliver.
“Council received more than 400 calls yesterday requesting information from Melbourne residents about gaining permission to travel following the Premier’s announcement on Sunday, and we thank those callers for their patience while Council resources were stretched.
“We are still waiting for guidelines from the State Government, however to streamline the process we hope to have an online form on our website at www.colacotway.vic.gov.au for non-resident ratepayers to access soon and request a letter of approval.
“When the request is validated and approved, property owners will receive an email with the letter that they can show at check points, show businesses or local police if requested.
“We suggested they also carry their rates notice or have it accessible from their phone.
“Anyone who does not have access to email or internet can call our customer assist line on 52329400 later this week to provide details however ratepayers without access to emails will need to wait until they receive their letter by mail before they can travel.
“Property owners who are unable to travel or are unable to carry out their own maintenance should arrange for local contractors to maintain their properties.
“COVID19 advice remains that you must wear a mask if you leave home and wash or sanitise your hands wherever you are in Victoria.
“If you are unwell you must get tested and stay home; do not attend your secondary property even if you have a letter of approval,” Mr Brown said.
“Fire prevention work is essential as we approach fire season and reducing the spread of COVID19 is essential; reducing the risk of any emergency situation is our priority as we look forward to recovery.”