Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Town Council Bylaws 'confidential'

A feeder I don't know was referred to me the other day. He feeds right next to a childcare centre, and apparently many of his cats are not sterilised. This has caused some consternation among the parents and the Principal of the childcare centre.

The town council then sent him a letter saying it was illegal to feed the cats in the common area. The officer told me that she actually did not have a problem with him feeding (though she did not encourage it). However, she said that she had spoken with him repeatedly and he did not comply. She said he did clean up but he fed at all hours, and in locations that were not ideal. She asked why he could not bring the cats into his flat.

I understand her problem and told her I would definitely speak with him, but I wanted to know where in the bylaws it said that feeding of cats per se was illegal. She agreed to fax me a copy.

A minute later she called back to say her manager said that I had to write in officially to see the bylaws for them to decide if they should release it to me, because these were 'confidential'. I asked them how people were expected to know if they had broken the law if they did not know what the law was. She said that it would be printed in the letter if someone was being fined under the bylaw and it would state what law had been contravened.

I pointed out to her that her letter had not stated what bylaw the feeder was supposed to have broken and what the elements of the offence were. The officer said that he had not been officially charged and hence this was not spelt out.

This makes no sense to me - you are not supposed to break a bylaw, but you are not supposed to know whether something you are doing is an offence or not! Then how will you know NOT to break the bylaw?

I looked up the Town Councils Act online and there clear as day it says that bylaws must be made available to members of the public at a reasonable cost.

15 Comments:

Blogger vegancat said...

Haha..she didn't know your background. It also goes to show how "knowledgeable" some town council officers are.

7/3/06 12:53 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I called back to ask where I can buy the bylaws and read the bylaw to her as well. She said she will confer with her Manager and get back to me,because she does not think the town council sells their bylaws.

7/3/06 1:10 PM  
Blogger =^..^= said...

The Town Councils Act states very clearly that...

"The by-laws of a Town Council in force on the date of publication shall be published annually in book form and copies thereof shall be made available for purchase at a reasonable price by members of the public."

~5-Cat Style

7/3/06 1:52 PM  
Anonymous yskat said...

Town councils, like many government organisations and large private corporations, feed on the ignorance of their stakeholders. This probably worked say, fifty years ago, when people were less educated. The public today is probably far better informed than employees at certain government agencies give them credit for. Yet these people are still constantly trying to fool the public by using old tactics. Dawn's encounter with this town council officer is an example, another being the "cats-as-nomads" thing from HDB.

7/3/06 1:54 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

plus the 'don't-need-make-report-for-animal-abuse-case' policemen

7/3/06 1:58 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Yes - and this officer also asked why the cats cannot be brought back into flats.

7/3/06 2:18 PM  
Anonymous imp said...

throw the rules right back to the manager's face. tell her to read her bylaws carefully before stiffling bureaucracy all over your head. what confidentiality? bah.

7/3/06 2:37 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Still waiting for manager's reply.

7/3/06 2:42 PM  
Blogger auntie p said...

Ah...just what we needed...more nonsense from the ignoramuses at the TCs who think they can pull wool overs our eyes. *roll eyes*

7/3/06 3:34 PM  
Blogger auntie p said...

This is a clear cut case where I would most likely go deal with the higher-ups, or write to the press, instead of banging my head against the wall. Why should we pay good money to the TCs for such incredible nincompoops?

7/3/06 4:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Auntie P - am giving them till tomorrow. If not, I'll write to the GM, or write to the Attorney General's Chambers perhaps, or as you suggested, the press.

7/3/06 4:16 PM  
Blogger auntie p said...

Good idea, Dawn. What's the relation with AG Chambers? Enlighten me pls. Thanks.

7/3/06 4:36 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

AG's Chambers I suspect will have copies of the laws filed with them.

7/3/06 4:48 PM  
Blogger Kayley said...

Have you read Fanz Kafka's THe Trial? The protagonist was charged for a law he broke, which no one knew and he could not be told what it was, and he was executed because he was guilty. He never knew what he was guilty of, nor did he ever got a trial.

Sounds familiar eh...

7/3/06 7:40 PM  
Blogger Kayley said...

* Franz Kafka...

Sorry spelling error

7/3/06 7:41 PM  

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