Council charges come under fire

BEAUTY therapist Teresa Lai has been left wondering how Tweed Shire Council can keep “inventing” new fees to charge local small businesses.

Ms Lai is outraged that council has delivered her a $90 'skin penetration fee' and is taking her protest to Australia's highest office - that of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Her campaign comes after the Tweed Daily News relealed last week that the council is charging a snack bar in Bay Street, Tweed Heads, a 'dish fat' charge of $75 a year for washing dirty dishes in the sink.

Outraged by the continual stream of council fees, Ms Lai has written to Mr Rudd warning that if other Australian councils followed Tweed's lead then any effort to encourage small business and counter a recession would be in vain.

“I've decided to bring the matter to the attention of Prime Minister Rudd because I believe this charge is simply an example of a rapacious council inventing fund raising exercises and imposts they then despotically levy on all small businesses,” Ms Lai said.

“If Tweed can get away with this then every council in Australia will be inventing new admin fees and simply adding to the already massive burdens of trying to run a small business.”

Ms Lai told Mr Rudd of how her small, one-lady beauty therapy business in Tweed Heads was recently sent the new $90 bill along with all other hairdressers and beauty salons in the Tweed area.

She told the Tweed Daily News she had been in the shop for 12 years and “never had anything like” the $90 so-called 'skin penetration' fee before.

Her partner Lawrie Morris called the council to seek an explanation and was told even though Ms Lai did not do 'skin penetration' she carried out waxings, making her liable for the fee.

Ms Lai has told Mr Rudd it has also come to her attention the council was “also suddenly applying spurious charges to other small businesses in the area including cafes, restaurants and food services”.

“All these charges are newly invented by the council and are questionable as to their validity and legality,” she said.

“It is certainly not in the spirit of what you and your Federal Government team are trying to accomplish in very tough times.”

A council spokesperson said New South Wales legislation required council to monitor the health standards and minimise the risk of infection “that may result from the provision of personal appearance services”.

“The $90 fee is for registration and inspection of premises carrying out skin penetration, hair dressing and beauty treatments,” she said.

Under the legislation, the council must keep records showing the type of skin penetration procedures carried out at the premises, the address of the premises and details of any inspections.

The spokesperson said 'skin penetration' covered acupuncture, tattooing, ear piercing, hair removal such as waxing, and any other procedure that involved 'skin penetration'.

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