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Council Censors Social Media Comment on Roads, as Community Anger Escalates

Mar 18, 2024

Residents and ratepayers have slammed the Hawkesbury City Council taking to social media to complain about half finished roads and gutters and repairs that are still needed following floods that began in 2020.

They have also questioned the quality of repairs undertaken by HCC and its contractors, the majority of which are using state and federal taxpayer funds – and how repairs are prioritised. And questions are being asked about what funds are being used for flood versus non-flood repairs.

“Of course more money is getting spent and more work is being done on the roads. When you don’t fix something properly the first time you need to go back and do it again and again. Bite the bullet, blow the budget now and fix the roads properly the first time,” Brad Smith said on Facebook in response to HCC March 7 roads update.

Another commentator said: “Don’t treat people like fools with posts like this. Obviously none of you in the council live in Kurrajong, North Richmond, Kurmond, Freeman’s Reach, Bowen Mountain parts of the Hawkesbury because the roads are pathetic,”

The surge in online complaints across a range of official conciland community sites came after HCC took to Facebook with a number of  updates in recent weeks, in an attempt to quel growing anger with the roads’ situation after being given detailed questions by The Hawkesbury Post.

But in its latest update on March 15, where it boasted of $41 million in roads funding between June 2023 and Jan. 2024, HCC turned off comments on its Facebook page.

“Spending more doesn’t mean you’re doing more or better. When SOME of repairs themselves are substandard and then need rework and require further money than doing a great job once, Laura Beshvar said.

“I think the effectiveness of the funds needs to be addressed. For instance… the work done on EK road near Carinya Cl(ose) took almost 2 years to get to and require numerous pothole works in the interim. The large patch of work was done around Easter last year (still has no lines) and is already littered with bumps and holes as the substrate wasn’t effectively prepared. This means more expenditure and nothing better in terms of the road.”

HCC Manager Elizabeth Richardson has also refused to answer any questions on exactly how much council, state and federal governments have contributed to road repairs, who is repairing roads, and the guidelines for road repairs. (Our questions to the council have been copied at the end of this story).

“Council is well aware that road maintenance and repair is currently the most important issue for Hawkesbury residents. Council is committed to transparency, providing our community with accurate and timely roads information and updates,” she told the Hawkesbury Post, while not offering any transparency whatsoever.

“Are there stats on what roads have been repaired then requiring further repairs?,” Carol Wright, wrote on Facebook. “The community should have that information. A breakdown of each repaired road and cost and re-repair.Transparency so the community can see where the $$ are going exactly!

“Terrace Road Freeman’s Reach, a main thoroughfare road was “patched” in places over 6 months ago. A sign has sat on the corner, new work no lines for over 5 months! Another sign up the hill “ rough surfaces” over 5 months sitting there.

“Does that absolve any responsibility to have a safe road that is not completed. The road is still in poor condition. Heavy vehicles approx 8 every hour start from 4 am… including constant traffic.This is not good enough. A busy road should be finished properly with lines done soon after.”

Like others, she raised the issues of safety on Hawkesbury roads: “Come winter and fog people rely on these safety measures like line markings in poor visibility. The work has to be finished properly,” Wright said

HCC Mayor Sarah McMahon said in a Feb. 2024 update on roads that the the Hawkesbury local government area is huge and geographically diverse with 1063km of roads – 20%  of which were significantly damaged by floods, 

“Many of these roads are in regions and communities far away from the urban centres around Windsor and Richmond where many of you live and work each day,” Cr McMahon said. “For these regional residents, their roads are often the only way in or out; they’re also often higher speed roads in more difficult terrain which increases risks to motorists.

“That is why we as a Council chose to prioritise the repair of roads in places like the Macdonald Valley, Colo and Lower Portland ahead of roads in Windsor and Richmond, which have numerous road routes to choose from. The reconstruction of Greens Road at Lower Portland and the replacement of Upper Colo Bridge are good examples of this, but are far from the only ones. The current reconstruction of the heritage Thomas James Bridge on Settlers Road is another prime example. These are road repairs that very few of our residents see, but are critical links to our regional communities.”

Photo Credit: Oakville and District Residents Group – Facebook

Questions HCC will not answer: 

Can you please lay out roads spending clearly, showing how much council, State and Federal governments are paying this financial year.

Can you please lay out the quantum of repairs that will still be in arrears at the end of the financial year and how this might be funded.

Can you explain the building of “gutters to nowhere” as per commentary on HCC page.

Does Council have a team who fixes roads, or does it out outsource everything?

How is the outsourcing run  – block tenders, a panel etc?

What are the technical guidelines/systems for fixing potholes?

How do you monitor the quality of the work? Who is responsible for overseeing this?

How does a road, pothole, footpath get in the “queue”? What are the assessment criteria? Which roads are more important than others?

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