CLEARED: Marelle Lee, of Lennox Head, with the backyard bathtub filled with plants.
CLEARED: Marelle Lee, of Lennox Head, with the backyard bathtub filled with plants. David Nielsen

Mozzie Barb v. council

WOULD a woman who had Ross River fever for three months keep a mozzie-infested bathtub of stagnant water in her backyard?

This is not a trick question.

Marelle Lee opened the door of her Lennox Head home to a council officer investigating her backyard bathtub after Ballina Shire Council received an anonymous complaint about potential mosquito breeding.

Mrs Lee was cleared, but yesterday lashed the council for responding to these kinds of tip-offs, saying anonymous complaints were a waste of council time and could be malicious.

“It is a poisonous practice, complaining anonymously,” she said.

Ballina Shire Council general manager Paul Hickey said the council followed anonymous complaints if they were considered a public health or safety matter.

“We don't like to accept anonymous complaints, but if we think there is a problem we will follow through,” he said.

Ballina Shire Council's complaints policy, which is available on its website, clearly states 'anonymous complaints will not be accepted'.

Lismore City Council and Richmond Valley Council yesterday encouraged complainants to leave their name and address, and offered strict confidentiality.

However, both would accept anonymous complaints if they thought there was a case.

Mrs Lee said the fact anyone even knew about her bathtub had her worried. The tub was filled with plants, and sat out of sight in her back garden, and she said someone would have had to trespass on her property to know it was there.

The council officer's visit also had her worried.

“I was shocked when she arrived, but asked her in,” Mrs Lee said.

She later realised she 'had just shown a complete stranger through the house'.

Mrs Lee said the officer showed her no identification, and thought the council ought to require staff to wear tags that clearly showed their identification cards.

Mr Hickey said all staff carried ID and the officer who went to Mrs Lee's house did the right thing.

“I'm happy with the way it was dealt with. The staff member acted courteously, introduced herself and did her duty,” he said.



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