It seemed like a fait accompli that Clarence Valley Council would at least come up with an estimate to fix Jubilee Street’s road surface; that was until the councillors who moved and seconded a motion to do so changed their minds during debate at the March 15 council meeting.
At the February council meeting, Cr Jim Simmons made a stand when he said: “As a matter of principal I am not going to vote for the adoption of works reports in future until I see at least some attempt to address the condition of the intersection [at Jubilee and Cameron streets in Maclean].
“It’s in a disgraceful condition and it’s been like that for a long, long time.”
Shoot forwards to the March corporate, governance and works committee meeting, and it seemed his protest had gained enough support.
The committee’s councillors, Simmons, Toms, Williamson, Lysaught and Kingsley unanimously supported Cr Simmons’ motion, to prepare a report to be tabled at the April committee meeting that would provide “cost estimates to bring the road surfaces” at the intersections of Cameron and Jubilee Streets and Jubilee Street and Hillcrest Road “to an acceptable standard”.
The following week, at the council meeting, Crs Margaret McKenna and Jason Kingsley seemingly endorsed the committee’s recommendation when they made and seconded the motion, respectively.
During questions before debate, Cr McKenna asked works and civil director Troy Anderson if he was able to estimate how much time staff would spend on preparing a report and if there were “any sort of cost guideline” to help her make a decision.
“If you said that the cost of these works is going to be in the ballpark of $50,000 it would make a difference, as opposed to S250,000,” she said.
Mr Anderson said it would “be very hard to put an amount of officers’ time associated with that”.
He said, however, that it would be “safe to say” that the cost of repairing the road would amount to “six figures”.
When debate commenced, Cr McKenna flagged that she would be voting against her motion in her right of reply.
During debate, Cr Simmons wondered “if we take any notice of the community; hopefully we do”.
He reiterated what he had said at the February meeting.
Cr Andrew Baker said he saw “nothing too onerous in having a report that provides cost estimates” prepared”.
“I suspect that the report will tell us whereabouts in the engineering priority order … those works might sit,” he said.
“We can then do what we should do as councillors and make some judgments on information provided to us; otherwise we’ll be flying blind on this one.”
Councillor McKenna said that when she found out the cost would be “six figures, that’s enough for me to decide that it’s not a priority”.
“…I can’t see the point in getting [staff] to do a report for a cost estimate that’s going to be too expensive,” she said.
Councillor McKenna referred to advice from staff – given at a councillor workshop –, who, she said, “gave a very good reason … with regard to why the intersections weren’t done”.
“It certainly didn’t seem like it was a deliberate action [to not repair the road] – in that the straight road is easy to do and that the corners and the intersections get more wear and tear on them and can’t structurally hold up to just a bit of patching.
“We’ve been told that this work will eventually be included in the [highway upgrade].
“The trucks are going to be using it, which is not a good thing in the short term, but we’re going to get a good result in the end, I’d hope.”
Councillor McKenna’s argument won the day; Crs Williamson, Toms, Baker and Simmons voted for the motion; Crs Lysaught, McKenna, Hughes, Howe and Kingsley were opposed.
No other councillors spoke on the matter.
A week after the meeting, Cr Simmons told the Independent that he was “extremely disappointed with the resolution and how it was handled by both the mover and seconder of the motion”.
“It’s difficult to understand their thinking,” he said.
“And that staff had already done work regarding the costings; as evidenced by the yellow markings painted at the top intersection.”
The Independent contacted each of the councillors, who voted against receiving a report to estimate the cost of the road repairs, to ask them if they had inspected the road before making their decisions.
Councillors Lysaught, Hughes, McKenna said they had.
Messages were left on the phones of Crs Williamson and Howe, however, they did not respond in time to be cited in this story.