The last council meeting was held at Argents Hill and several local community members stood up to have their say during the public forum.
Like last year’s meeting in Burrapine, the main concern of Argents Hill residents was Council’s approach to gravel road grading.
Vice President of the Argents Hill Hall Committee Tom MacIndoe runs an organic produce farm from Girralong and drives along 15km of dirt road to transport his produce for sale.
He thanked council staff for the last grading completed along North Arm Rd which lasted a good deal longer than previous jobs, but said after the most recent period of rain, he had noticed a “quick deterioration of the road surface” which often hurts the quality of his produce.
“And that threatens the viability of our business,” he said.
Alfred Blakey also spoke to the issue and said “it only takes one period of bad weather for it to come undone”.
“Once potholes start appearing, people start taking risks to avoid it, and people’s vehicles start getting bashed about.”
The suggestion was made to Council staff that the grading of the road schedule should be on a “needs-based” system rather than a “once yearly” one.
When we followed up with Council about this suggestion they said that their “road hierarchy” is currently under review and should be completed within the next 12 months.
“Where a road sits on the hierarchy will determine its intended maintenance schedule. Essentially a road will be classed in accordance with its use and roads within a higher asset class will receive more maintenance than a road with a lower asset class,” Council’s manager infrastructure services Matthew Leibrandt said.
He also said that in order to counter some of the issues to do with grading maintenance, Council had sealed a further 5km of North Arm Rd in 2016 “at areas known as Silvia’s Flat and the Tropics”.
“Since then Council has undertaken multiple gravel resheets to North Arm Road, thickening the pavement and improving the quality of the road. The heavily trafficked section of North Arm Road receives two maintenance grades per year in addition to pothole patch repairs as needed. The lower use end of the road receives one grade annually but can also have pothole patching undertaken as needed,” Mr Leibrandt said.
He said Council already uses a “needs-based” system of maintenance, via resident feedback on its online request system or over the phone.
“The problem some residents have is that the way we have determined the ‘need’ is based on asset management principles, engineering principles, condition rating and risk rating etc. and not on a resident’s personal opinion. When decisions are made regarding the scheduling of works the condition of the whole Shire road network is taken into consideration, not just one road in isolation,” he said.