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.