Bestbrook owner fires up over fine
THE Southern Downs Regional Council has had its second Magistrates Court win against a local business in less than a week, after Bestbrook Mountain Resort owner Ray Vincent was yesterday fined $12,000 for unlawful vehicle sales.
Mr Vincent pleaded guilty last week to selling vehicles without a council development permit as required by State law, but has slammed the council for trying to put him out of business.
His prosecution follows that of Bob Wall – owner of Wall’s Sand and Gravel – who was fined the same amount last Friday for conducting a concrete-batching operation without approval.
A key difference between the cases was costs, with Mr Wall ordered to pay $30,000 and Mr Vincent $1570.
In sentencing yesterday, Magistrate Anne Thacker accepted submissions by council’s solicitor Alex Gudkovs that Bestbrook effectively formed the “gateway” to the Southern Downs region and that Mr Vincent had breached the town plan by displaying vehicles for sale along the resort’s Cunningham Highway frontage.
The court heard the activity was conducted between July and October last year and that Mr Vincent had been fined $2500 in 2007 for the same offence.
But Mr Vincent yesterday came out swinging, saying the council took $21,000 off him in rates a year yet he was forced to fight them with his own money while, ironically, they used his rates dollars to fight him.
“I can no longer sell anything from Bestbrook or the vehicle-holding yard I now pay rent for in Warwick to allow me to comply with the council enforcement order, but I can meet someone in the council car park and sell them a vehicle legally,” a furious Mr Vincent said.
“Council tells me the community is up in arms about cars being sold here – well I would like to know which community it is, as everyone I talk to feels sorry for me having to eat humble pie trying to keep my staff together and provide a service to the community.”
Mr Vincent said there would be “500 trucks, tractors and dead vehicles” on properties between Bestbrook and Warwick within sight of public roads.
“I thought that by turning the business around and making Bestbrook a place where people like to come back to could only benefit the community and local tourist industry. Obviously council doesn’t feel these are good things.”
Mr Vincent is also fighting the council in the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland in a bid to keep offering camping on his property after the council told him he had no approval, despite charging him camping permit fees for the first three years he owned Bestbrook.
The council is involved in a similar court case against Ian and Sue Gordon over provision of toilet and other facilities for campers on their Goomburra property.