Saturday, April 13, 2024

Driving home message on abandoned trolleys

Abandoned shopping trolleys littering suburban streets could become a thing of the past following a tightening of impound laws, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said today.

LGNSW President, Linda Scott said the new Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Bill 2021 was an improvement on existing laws that made compliance almost impossible to enforce.

“These abandoned trolleys pose a very real risk to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, while others clog our local waterways,” Cr Scott said. 

“There are 8,900 supermarkets right across NSW, and thousands more stores offering the use of shopping trolleys every day – recently four Western Sydney councils alone collected 550 abandoned trolleys in a single day.

“The widely used “trolley tracker” app has taken reports of more than three million abandoned trolleys since it was launched, so that gives an idea of the scope of the recovery problem, and of the cost to councils and ratepayers.”

She said past efforts to deal with the problem, including deposit-based systems, geofencing, wheel locks and trolley trackers had not prevented the abandonment of millions of trolleys.

“Which is why local governments have pushed so hard for legislative change just like this.”

Cr Scott said the new Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Bill 2021 introduced into the NSW Parliament this week was a significant improvement over the nearly 30-year-old Impounding Act 1993.

The new legislation would put a three-hour collection time limit on trolleys, vehicles or other items causing a safety hazard, and a seven-day limit for others. Fines ranging from $660 trolley to $13,750 would be applied, depending on the nature, number and time the items remained.

“Essentially these new rules put the onus right back on the owners to ensure their property is not abandoned throughout our communities.”

“They’ll need to remove these items – which go beyond shopping trolleys to include items such as unregistered vehicles – within an appropriate time frame or face harsher penalties, more rapid impounding action and enforcement orders.

“Right now the community is spending more than $17 million each year recovering these trolleys; the new cost-recovery components in the legislation means councils alone will be able to claw back almost $10 million of this cost,” she said.

The legislation will also benefit other agencies responsible for keeping public spaces clear, including the police, Cr Scott said.

“Officers will now be able to enter an abandoned motor vehicle to identify its owners, and then charge that individual the fees for recovery and possible storage of that item.”

“It’s a sensible move, and councils are grateful to the Government for the extensive consultation and other work it has done with councils and supermarkets to help resolve this problem.”

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