FRANKSTON Council officers alongside CFA and Victoria Police have entered an abandoned restaurant on the Nepean Highway to boot out people residing “illegally” in the building.
Council CEO Dennis Hovenden said that six residents were kicked out of the former location of the Pint and Pickle restaurant on 5 February after multiple reports from residents of people coming and going from the building.
“We found illegal accommodation, we found the building to be unsafe, we found a lot of rubbish. Orders have now been issued that the illegal occupation has to cease within 72 hours and the owner will be served with notices to secure the building, and clean up all of the rubbish. Failure to comply would result in enforcement,” he said.
“The six residents have been told they have to vacate and find other accommodation. They said they had the permission of the owner to stay there. They’ve been told they have to vacate the premises, they have no option.
“The residents were expressing concern that there was maybe illegal activity going on there, like drug taking. They were really concerned that they had in recent days seen school children going into the building. Therefore with the concerns of the residents we took immediate action that afternoon.”
Mr Hovenden told The Times “the site has a bit of a history, it is known to the police that had to attend”. He said that the living conditions in the building were very concerning, with one officer appearing to suffer from “flea bites”.
Mr Hovenden said no school children were present when council officers entered the building.
Mr Hovenden said if those that were booted were “having trouble finding emergency accommodation, we work with those people to identify emergency accommodation.”
After first entering on 5 February, police and council officers entered the building again on 8 February to follow up.
A statement from Frankston Council after the 8 February operation said “council issued an emergency order against the owner of a property located on Nepean Highway on Thursday of last week, following concerns raised by residents relating to safety, unsightliness, graffiti and illegal occupancy.”
“The emergency order was enforced on Friday in conjunction with Victoria Police. Council does not know how many people were evacuated.
“Council, often in conjunction Victoria Police, investigates all complaints as they are received and undertakes the relevant action where necessary to ensure public safety.”
The operation followed a similar operation at the Ambassador Hotel in November last year, when a number of people and their pets residing illegally were booted. Council resolved to put more resources into monitoring the Ambassador to prevent the situation from happening again.
Mayor Michael O’Reilly said after that operation that “Frankston City Council takes fire safety and the safety of our residents very seriously, and will take appropriate action, where necessary”
“None of the agencies enjoy having to undertake this sort of work. Thankfully we were able to immediately connect these residents with local support services and pets were taken into care” (“Crackdown on illegal Ambassador residence”, The Times, 5/2/19).