Overgrown school site a safety issue
"Overgrown" school site a safety issue

A Busselton couple are urging authorities to take up their long-held concerns about a bushfire risk on overgrown bushland around St Joseph’s Primary School.

Shirley and Peter Batty, whose granddaughter is enrolled at the school, said they had been trying to alert authorities to the fire hazard for three years.

The school is on MacKillop Avenue in West Busselton, which is separated from College Avenue by bushland. There are also big areas of bush behind the school.

Mrs Batty said the bushland was overgrown and claimed dead leaves and debris were dumped there when other areas of the school were cleaned.

“We’re really concerned. It’s a real fire hazard and a snake hazard, ” she said.

“All it takes is a person to flick a cigarette in there and we’ve got major problems.”

Mrs Batty said the school told her the City of Busselton was responsible for the issue.

She said a City representative promised to take a look at the area, but nothing had been done.

City planning and development services director Paul Needham said they were in the process of responding to the couple’s concerns.

“The City does, however, assess and manage bushfire risk, as resources allow and in accordance with an overall risk assessment process, on all land managed by the City, as well as pro-actively ensuring landowner compliance with our Firebreak and Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice, ” he said.

St Joseph’s principal Ben Doyle said they worked with the City to ensure bushland and surrounding areas were maintained as required.

He said their next scheduled meeting was today but did not specifically address the couple’s claims.

“Obviously with the recent tragedies in Perth members of the community are concerned regarding the welfare of students and land, ” Mr Doyle said. Mrs Batty guessed there could be conservation issues which prevented the land from being cleared.

She said authorities did not need to completely remove the bushland, just clear out the undergrowth.

She added it was disappointing the City was so confident about their fire preparation when there were still dangers in the community. “We’re not prepared, not where we should be, ” she said.

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