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Mounting anger over Hawkesbury Council’s failure to repair our roads

Oct 2, 2022

Back a while ago a pensioner got in touch with us here at Hawkesbury Post, very upset and telling us he’d just had to spend over $800 getting his car repaired after hitting a deep pothole on Greggs Road, Kurrajong, which Hawkesbury Council had failed to repair for months.

 

Being a pensioner, he could ill-afford such a payment and given he wasn’t at fault that just made it sting more.

 

Kurmond Rd – Sunday…

 

But there’s zero hope of any compensation from Hawkesbury Council, even though they are responsible for providing road repairs.

 

The particular pothole our driver hit was filled soon after we originally highlighted it way back in May, then it opened up again, and only very recently has once more been filled. As ratepayers we pay for that ‘repair’ every single time.

 

At the September Council meeting, Liberal Mayor Sarah McMahon brought a lengthy Mayoral Minute before the chamber, which asked staff for “an update on the 2020-2023 roads program including anticipated timing and funding,” and a “plan to address the immediate state of potholes across the local government area”.

 

The Mayoral Minute pins the blame for lack of repairs and good roads on a backlog of repairs over the last decade, poor tracking and recording systems, poor quality past work, and small number of trained staff, NSW skilled workers and road-base, and the sheer scale of the issue following five floods.

 

Resident Michael Want, who spoke at the council meeting and opposed the Mayoral Minute, said there had been outrage from some Liberal councillors around six years ago when a previous council under then Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett had sought a Special Rate Variation to fund a large-scale road repair and restoration of the Hawkesbury’s roads.

 

Whatever the past, clearly what is needed right now is action filling potholes and mending roads.

 

It’s not clear how the report requested by the Mayoral Minute will speed up repairs, given the issues Council says it has.

 

We’ve received a barrage of emails, messages through social media, and phone calls from residents in just about every Hawkesbury suburb complaining about dangerous potholes and poor road surfaces, about the delay getting flood and rain-damaged roads repaired.

 

Kurmond Rd at the start of the Public School 40 zone – Sunday. It has been like this for months and is steadily getting worse…

 

Residents – many recently hit with a rates rise voted through by Hawkesbury councillors – are demanding to know why there seems so little action.

 

Most of the roads in the Hawkesbury are the responsibility of Hawkesbury Council, with the exception of main roads such as Bells Line of Road and most of Windsor Rd, which falls to the RMS and Transport for NSW to repair.

 

You can take your pick from a long list if you want to talk un-repaired roads but one which has been an issue for literally years is Old Pitt Town Rd.

 

Resident Kelly from Pitt Town – most people do not want their full names published for fear it could put their road repairs on the back-burner, or even further back on the back-burner – pointed out the seriously pock-marked road is, “the only exit for 5500 Pitt Town residents should they need to evacuate immediately”.

 

And of course that is a very real possibility, once again, given we could be looking at another flood event soon, with the La Nina weather pattern returning and Warragamba Dam 100% full today – Sunday – and spilling.

 

Kelly has been regularly reporting the dire condition of the road to Council since at least 2018 – we’ve seen the email trails – and to individual councillors, including Mayor McMahon who told her in August, “we need to act”.

 

Kelly says, “there are lots of promises but zero action.

 

“They came about a month ago with a bobcat and scraped the edges of dirt near the National Park areas, but that’s all, and I don’t think it’s actually related to road repairs.

Kurmond Rd – Sunday – centre of the road…

“On Schofield Rd, a bobcat was used to scrape off the debris and smooth over the road, but again… the road hasn’t been repaired and will become a mess again with the rain as it’s just mud.”

 

We’ve been out and about looking at several roads in our area and can report they are getting worse and worse.

 

Today – Sunday – the massive potholes on Kurmond Rd – which is not a flood-prone road – are as dangerous as you’ll find anywhere in the Hawkesbury. Parts of the road towards Freemans Reach have seen some patching over the last two weeks but it’s clearly poor quality and will not likely last long.

 

The approach to the roundabout at the junction of Kurmond Rd and Crooked Lane which has been in a terrible condition for well over a year, and recently broke up into large and dangerous potholes, has now been temporarily patched.

 

As you can see here –

it has more patches than your Nanna’s quilt.

 

Kurmond Rd roundabout – “More patches than your Nanna’s quilt.”

 

You’d think it would be cheaper and more effective to do it once and do it right.

 

“There just aren’t excuses left anymore,” says Kelly.

 

“The council unfortunately just isn’t doing its job. Residents are using the online reporting form, they’re phoning customer service, contacting local members such as Robyn Preston, Susan Templeman, Mayor Sarah McMahon, and each of the councillors directly, with details and roads’ names. The HCC roads department just keep saying they have too many requests, no funds, short staffed, or no contractors to do the work.

 

“Other surrounding councils have done brilliant jobs of sending out tenders for road remediation, but our council certainly has not.”

 

Another resident who’s been in touch is Danielle from East Kurrajong who says, “rates are hiking left right and centre, yet Hawkesbury roads have been an absolute joke with minimal effort to repair, especially since the March 2021 floods. An absolute disgrace.

 

“We pay some of the highest rates in Western Sydney, yet get the least in return when compared to other local government areas.”

 

“i.e. safe and reasonable roads to commute on, minimal council clean ups, and other services.

 

“Just look on every local community page – Glossvegas, Wilberforce community, East Kurrajong community, North Richmond and surrounds community, Oakville community, just to name a few that I’m part of – to witness the concern and disapproval of local council constituents. It’s time something is done!

 

“I’m definitely not normally one to speak up and complain, however as one of many young residents of the Hawkesbury – I’ve lived here all my life – I’ve never seen the roads this neglected. It makes me concerned that my hard-earned money going to rates (which aren’t cheap!!) is not being put to good use.”

 

At the moment Council produces a weekly list of roads it’s repairing but it’s far from reliable. There are many examples of a road supposedly being repaired on a certain date but no work takes place – we know, because we go out and check. On September 12, for example, the list said they were making road repairs at Bowen Mountain. The beauty of the Mountain is you can drive all its roads in about 15 minutes. There were no road repairs taking place, only the construction of a new culvert following complaints from a resident about water damaging their driveway. That culvert runs parallel with a badly damaged section of road – but that hasn’t been touched by Council.

 

In common with most suburbs, damaged roads at BoMo are simply getting worse by the day and are not being repaired.

 

Another terrible stretch of road – some of it with a 70kph speed limit – is Grose Vale Rd. Let’s just pick one – this mammoth vehicle-wrecking hole

 

is just up from Enniskillen Orchard. Hit that and it’s going to cause a lot of damage. It’s been reported and it’s been like this for weeks, and is steadily getting worse.

 

At the other end of the Orchard, a part of the road temporarily repaired by Council a couple of months ago after damage to several vehicles, has once again opened up. That means, as ratepayers, we are yet again having to pay for a repair that wasn’t done properly in the first place and is clearly well below any standard. And we’ll pay again when they get round to the next temporary fix.

 

At the September Council meeting the Mayor said there was, “no hiding from the fact we do need to address the road situation”.

 

She said that at the October meeting there should be a list of roads, what needs to be done and when it will take place, and which pool of funding repairs are going to come from.

 

Cllr Eddie Dogramaci said he was wondering if he should sue the Council he sits on for damage caused to his car after hitting a large pothole. He also claimed the Council were “doing nothing”.

 

But Cllr Mary Lyons-Buckett said, “we are trying to do the best we can do,” and she thanked Council’s Infrastructure department, “for doing their best in very trying circumstances. It’s very challenging and it’s also very easy to understand the frustrations of our community when they do approach us and they are critical of us”.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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