BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS
A man has been ordered by the state government to dismantle a garden he had worked on for six years.
The Department of Family and Community Services has ordered the public housing tenant to return the property to its original condition, sparking a campaign in the local community to allow him to retain the garden structure, located in the garden of a department owned building.
City Hub understands that the department was acting on a complaint made by two residents in the building.
Mr Bath, known affectionately as ‘Ducky’ to locals, has lived in the building since it was refurbished by the department seven years ago.
Mr Bath, who is illiterate, realised the department had made the order to destroy the garden when he showed the letter to friend and neighbour Michael Newton.
Mr Newtown told City Hub that it was devastating considering Ducky had suffered a broken back and was told he would never walk again.
Mr Newtown that Ducky was welcome in the local area and that his garden was an improvement on the “red gravel and spikey grass” which surrounds the building.
“Ducky started this garden six years ago and I watched with delight and pleasure, and he and I became friends, and on October 1, he showed me this letter from the department demanding the dismantling of the garden.”
“I immediately made a plan of action, made a Facebook page, made a petition and wrote to the department about this matter.”
Mr Newtown said he already had 50 signatures from people in the street and 100 likes on the Facebook page he launched a few days ago.
Mr Newtown said that the garden had been something which enriched Ducky’s life following an accident which left him with a broken back while working in agriculture.
“He is illiterate, I have had to read things to him, he was an opal miner, an agricultural worker who broke his back and was told he would never walk again. He’s a determined man and he can walk with two sticks, and part of his rehab and what keeps him alive is this garden,” Mr Newtown said.
“They also said if you do not follow the direction to remove the structure, they will take action in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and will seek to have it removed and seek costs,” Mr Newton said.
A department of Family and Community Services Spokesperson wrote in a statement to City Hub that there was no avenue of appeal available, as the structure and other items were not pre approved.
“Two residents of 25 Alexandra Road, Glebe initiated action against the Department of Family & Community Services (FACS) in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) in relation to a garden and other structures erected in the common area of the property.”
“On 30 September, NCAT ordered FACS to have all unapproved structures and other items in the common area of the property removed.”
“As the removal orders have been given to FACS and the structures installed were not pre-approved, there are no avenues of appeal for the residents.
“If Mr Bath has mobility issues, we strongly encourage him to provide this information to his local office so that we can consider providing any additional support that may be needed.”
City Hub understands the deadline for the removal of the garden is October 14, after which a department inspector may check to see if the structure has been removed.
Mr Newton said he believed most of the tenants in the building were in favour of the garden.