A Naracoorte-Lucindale counsellor has asked the council and his fellow elected members what they intend to do about the poor management of road maintenance and the underutilization of the road-making machinery in the district.
In a question with notice submitted on July 13 to be presented in the council’s meeting this month, Cr Trevor Rayner said, “I get re-elected on the promise of trying to address this issue, but at this stage it has been to no avail”.
Council chief executive officer Trevor Smart has replied to the question, with a response appearing on the agenda item for the council’s July 25 meeting and published on the council website.
Explaining the reason for his motion to The [Naracoorte Community] News, Cr Rayner said he brought a wealth of experience and knowledge on road works to the council, having worked with various councils on best practises for road maintenance for decades.
“My expertise is in road building. I know how to operate the machinery and fix it as well,” he said.
“I have been telling the council administration that our work practises for the upkeep of our roads can be improved. They don’t listen,” he said.
Cr Rayner said the council doesn’t need more money to fix the roads, it needs to use the allocated funds better.
“The council owns five graders, and they only average 600 hours of work per year. All the neighbouring council’s graders work over 1000 hours per year in higher rainfall areas.
“Councils to the North of Naracoorte get up to 1500 hours per year with their graders,” he claimed.
Cr Rayner said any council, which worked efficiently, put the rubble on the side of the road before the working plant came in to make the road.
“But here in Naracoorte, it’s like a dog’s breakfast.”
He said the state of the roads in the district was “very poor”, and urgent action was needed to fix them.
Cr Rayner said he had a simple message for the CEO.
“When counsellors bring their issues and expertise to the table, that’s backed by the people. The administration and the CEO need to listen, take note, and work for the betterment,” he highlighted.
In his written response to Cr Rayner’s question on notice, Mr Smart said while the question was directed to other elected members as to their thoughts or actions on what appeared to be a pre-determined position of poor management and underutilization of road-making machinery.
Offering information for consideration, the CEO referred to Section 59 of the Local Government Act on the roles of members of councils.
He said the NLC Strategic Plan 2023–2033, which was endorsed by Council in June 2023, included a priority action under strategic direction five – invest in key infrastructure and assets.
“Undertake a service review relating to Council roads, including whether the current levels of investment in grading, repairs, and maintenance, resurfacing and reconstruction, and shoulder sealing meet the council’s service standards, taking into account the changing nature and volumes of traffic.”
He said this priority action provided an endorsement by the council to conduct a service review as outlined.
“The priority actions included in the strategic plan will need to be prioritised by council as those actions are over a five-year period.
“During my tenure as CEO of Naracoorte Lucindale Council, there has been no resolution passed by council to conduct a service review relating to council roads.
“There have been numerous statements made as to work practises, but no formal action proposed by way of resolution of council.
“To achieve any individual’s election promises, it is an elected member’s responsibility to work with other elected members to provide clear direction as to the action required (by way of resolution passed by council).”
He stated that the council administration continually assesses opportunities for improvements, efficiencies, or changes in work practises across the organisation and welcomed any opportunity to assess the effectiveness of service delivery.
“Based on some recent communications between CEO, Mayor Ross, Cr Rayner, and Cr McGuire on this subject, I suggest that council would need to agree on a ‘project scope’ so as to ensure that any review meets the intentions of elected council.
“This would include whether we undertake the review internally or have an external organisation assist us in the review, and that any review is subsequently respectfully considered to determine the best outcomes or direction.”
This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.