AN overzealous ranger who removed “anti-tip” signs from roadsides in Arthurs Seat, Red Hill and Dromana last Saturday has forced Mornington Peninsula Shire to issue a public apology.
The shire posted a statement on its website on Sunday after receiving complaints from Peninsula Preservation Group members and other anti-tip sign owners.
Shire officers delivered the signs to a PPG member’s home on Sunday.
The statement said rangers would return a number of “no tip” protest signs “that were mistakenly impounded on Saturday”.
Claire Smith, the shire’s manager of environment protection and community safety, said signs had been removed from “the road reserve in Arthurs Seat and Red Hill”.
The News understands signs were also removed from outside properties in Boundary Rd, Dromana.
A number of the signs were inappropriately placed on VicRoads directional signs, Ms Smith said.
“Council respects people’s right to protest peacefully but needs to ensure that signs do not impact unduly on public safety.
“Over the past few months, our officers have been negotiating with residents who have erected signs in inappropriate and unsafe locations to relocate them onto their properties.
“In this instance, however, some of the signs were removed in error. All the signs will be returned.”
On Monday, the shire’s communications manager Todd Trimble said signs obscuring pedestrian or driver’s sight lines had been removed. Others attached to directional and tourism signs had been taken as well.
He said the shire had received complaints from owners of vineyards and restaurants.
Mr Trimble dismissed a conspiracy theory that the shire had removed the signs because it was embarrassed by the anti-tip movement and the first warm weekend in months would see thousands of visitors arriving on the peninsula for the weekend.
Residents have been erecting signs for several months in opposition to Peninsula Waste Management’s controversial plan to turn an old quarry on the Arthurs Seat escarpment into a municipal rubbish tip or landfill.
The preservation group has made and distributed more than 750 signs.
Other objectors have paid for large, professionally made signs and erected them next to major roads including Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Safety Beach.
In July, the shire warned objectors to remove signs from nature strips and public land.
A bulletin sent to members of Peninsula Preservation Group stated the shire’s planning compliance department had contacted the group “to alert us to the unlawful positioning of some of our ‘no tip’ signs after receiving a number of complaints”.
“They stress that signs will be removed as a last resort, and have given us opportunity to alert supporters to relocate any signs on nature strips back onto their private property,” the bulletin stated.
Peninsula Preservation Group’s website is at: savearthursseat.com
The group’s 12,800-signature petition is at: www.communityrun.org/petitions/save-arthurs-seat
Peninsula Waste Management’s website is at: peninsulawaste.com.au
There is information on the shire website at: www.mornpen.vic.gov.au