UPDATE: Cr to pay $40k for selling plants without licence
UPDATE: The Office of Local Government NSW has responded to the recent case of Coffs Harbour City Councillor John Arkan being ordered to pay damages for selling blueberry plants he was not authorised to sell.
"This is a private legal matter between the councillor and other parties to the court proceedings and does not fall within the ambit of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW," an office spokesperson said.
"Ultimately, it is a matter for the local community to determine if they want an individual councillor as their elected representative when voting at the next council election."
Mayor Denise Knight was also contacted in relation to the matter and she issued the following statement.
"I have received a few emails from the community with enquires re. Cr Arkan. However, Coffs City Council, like every Council in NSW, has a Code of Conduct that applies to all Council Officials.
"Should a complaint be lodged under that Code against a Council official, including a Councillor, the complaint is assessed/investigated in accordance with the Code, affording all parties natural justice and procedural fairness."
Cr to pay $40k for selling berry plants without licence
JULY 30: A COFFS Harbour City Councillor has been ordered to pay damages for selling blueberry plants he was not authorised to sell.
Cr John Arkan was found to have infringed the rights of Mountain Blue Orchards under the Plant Breeder's Rights Act, 1994 designed to protect the rights of breeders of certain new varieties of plants.
The case against Cr Arkan was filed by Mountain Blue Orchards in relation to their Ridley 1111 plant variety.
The Ridley 1111 is known for its higher quality fruit (medium and firm with a dark blue colour and small picking scar) and an earlier availability than other varieties.
The matter was heard in March before the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in Brisbane.
Cr Arkan was ordered to pay $42,500 in damages to Mountain Blue Orchards - $20,000 by March 18, 2020 and $22,500 by April 18, 2020.
Managing director of Mountain Blue Orchards Andrew Bell would not comment on the matter saying the court is still to decide the issue of costs.
Cr Arkan was contacted for comment but did not return the Advocate's call.
In addition to paying damages Cr Arkan was directed to provide an affidavit to Mountain Blue Orchards outlining the number and location of plants, propagating material and fruit of the specific variety in his possession or control.
Orders were also made to provide details of all the other parties these plants, propagating material and fruit was sold on to.
He was also ordered to deliver up for destruction to a representative from the company at his Woolgoolga, Palmer Road property, all plants, other propagating material and fruit currently in his possession.
Mountain Blue Orchards was also granted access to the Palmer Road property to check the destruction orders had been complied with.
It's not the first time the Cr has featured in the courts. In 2018 he was issued an infringement notice for using an unregistered trailer and was allowed to leave the location choosing to drive Old Coast Rd instead of the Pacific Highway.
The traffic offence, came after the well-known local market vendor got a serving from the law after he was caught making an illegal U-turn in an unregistered and uninsured bus, which displayed unauthorised plates last year.
He pleaded guilty to his charges in court and took a leave of absence from his role as a Councillor. Coffs Harbour City Council later ruled he had not breached its code of conduct and no further action was taken.