Owner loses $500,000 in lengthy council dispute
A SUNSHINE Coast wreckers owner forced to vacate his business by this Friday says the council deadlocked his gates weeks prior to the lease ending.
Ivan Harrison has leased land from Sunshine Coast Council to run Eumundi Noosa Auto Wreckers for the past 30 years.
The 77-year-old told the Daily last month he and six workers would be out of a job after the council decided not to offer Mr Harrison another lease, which was due to expire in September.
He said the council had granted the business more time to vacate the property at different times since the initial expiry, with the most recent extension to end this Friday.
Mr Harrison said the council locked the gates of his business for a week, preventing him from removing his property onsite.
This has been denied by the council.
"They locked the gates, and it took us nearly a week to sort it out with them," Mr Harrison said.
"They locked them up about three weeks ago so we lost a week's worth of work there, and then we had two weeks of rain."
A Sunshine Coast Council spokeswoman said access to the site was prevented for one day in January as the lease had expired.
"Council offered a further licence to 31 January 2020 to allow Mr Harrison time to remove his property from the premises, but did not receive a response," she said.
"Council re-entered possession of the premises and secured the gate on 15 January 2020.
"Mr Harrison then agreed with council to a further licence to 21 February 2020.
"The licence allows Mr Harrison to continue to sell existing car wrecks on the basis that he must vacate the site by 21 February 2020."
Mr Harrison said he had reached out to the council multiple times asking for more time to remove the stock, but to no avail.
"We've moved over 500-odd cars now, but there's still another month or six weeks work here," he said.
"There's no way I can do it by Friday.
"It's going to take another six weeks at least.
"We've been working six and a half days a week. We're doing our best."
An email obtained by the Daily showed the council recently knocked back Mr Harrison's request for further time to vacate the premises, stating that any items left on the property after this Friday would "be deemed abandoned".
Yet the spokeswoman said the council would allow Mr Harrison "reasonable access" to remove the remaining property.
"A right to occupy the premises beyond 21 February 2020 will not be offered, however Mr Harrison will be allowed reasonable access to remove any remaining personal property within agreed time frames," she said.
Mr Harrison said the lengthy dispute had cost him his livelihood.
"I've lost half a million bucks. I'll have to sell my house as well," he said.
"We've got 50-odd cars we've kept as core stock to start another yard with, but with the way things are going now, it looks like we'll have to crush all that. So that'll be another $100,000 down the drain.
"It's put me in a bad place. I've worked all my life, ever since I was 14.
"I've just gotten where I wanted to get and now they've just chopped me off at the knees."