What Whelan Street looked like after the region’s first rainfall last week … since this photo was taken, significantly more rain has fallen in the Hivesville area (Photo: Steven Payne)
Hivesville ratepayer Steven Payne has questioned why he pays rates because his property becomes inaccessible whenever heavy rain falls

November 15, 2021

A Hivesville man whose wife requires reliable property access in case of a medical emergency has slammed a Council decision to postpone action on upgrading his road for at least six months, and possibly forever.

The man – Steven Payne – lives on Whelan Street at Hivesville, a narrow 400 metre road which was regularly maintained by the former Wondai Shire Council but appears to have “slipped through the cracks” after local councils amalgamated in 2008.

At the SBRC’s Infrastructure Standing Committee meeting on November 3, councillors rejected a motion by Cr Kathy Duff that Whelan Street be upgraded to unsealed gravel road standard in the next quarterly review of the capital works program, and added to Council’s road maintenance program once the upgrade was carried out.

Councillors were told Whelan Street provided access to three properties and that one of these was home to a woman in poor health who could require emergency ambulance services at any time.

They heard that while Whelan Street was accessible for the major part of each year, it turned into a mud pit whenever there was heavy rain.

This made ambulance access difficult to impossible on those occasions.

Council officers said Whelan Street was roughly half the width of most Hivesville roads and this would make it difficult for a grader and water truck to access, so they recommended that smaller equipment such as a backhoe be used instead.

They also told the meeting there was no record of the road ever being serviced by Council since 2008, and they estimated it would cost Council $40,000 to upgrade the road and its stormwater drainage to make it more suited to regular maintenance.

Cr Duff’s motion was defeated 5-2, with only Mayor Brett Otto voting in support.

An alternate motion by Cr Kirstie Schumacher that “a report be brought back to the May 2022 Infrastructure Standing Committee meeting detailing all unformed roads in the South Burnett Region that have existing residential landholders who have made inquiries to Council in relation to road maintenance so further planning can be undertaken to consider these issues” was then carried unanimously.

On Friday – after Whelan Street was turned into a bog by last week’s downpours – Mr Payne told southburnett.com.au he was “appalled” that Councillors could turn their backs on his request.

He also questioned what he paid his rates for.

“Where I live I don’t get a garbage collection service and I have to haul my waste to the local transfer station myself,” he said.

“I don’t get any water service, so if I need some I have to go to the Hivesville standpipe and pay $5 a kilolitre for it. And I don’t get a sewerage service either.”

Mr Payne said he believed the bare minimum any ratepayer should be entitled to was reliable all-weather access to their property.

Mr Payne works at a mine in Chinchilla and to do that job said he has to take his family’s 4WD when he is on shift, leaving his wife with a 2WD car.

While his wife could use Whelan Street when the weather was dry, the road was impossible to access with a 2WD vehicle after heavy storms like last week’s, and this put her life at risk.

Mr Payne was also critical of Council’s estimate to upgrade the road.

“$40,000 sounds ridiculously high,” he said.

“All we want is some blue metal on the roadway, and Council has a roadbase dump on the way to Boondooma Dam that just sits there,” he said.

“They also have a truck at Proston that could go out to there to pick up a small load of blue metal, and I don’t think it would take two men more than a few hours to shovel it out on to the roadway.

“There is no way that could cost anything like $40,000.

“I’m not talking a blue ribbon upgrade here. I just want to see Council put a layer of gravel over the top of the boggy patches so that when it rains a car can still get across it without getting bogged.

“That’s not a very big ask, is it?”

The issue of Whelan Street will return to the table at the next General Meeting on November 24, when decisions made by the Council’s Standing Committees are reviewed.

A view of Whelan Street’s dog-leg corner, which Council officers say would pose a challenge to a grader and water truck (Photo: Steven Payne)

[UPDATED with correction]


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3 Responses to "What Am I Paying Rates For?"

  1. David Nugent  November 16, 2021

    Swartz’s Road Tingoora is dirt as well…

    With still summer to come…it could do with a grade or preferably sealed…many rate payers reside along its course….

    Reply
  2. Terry Gordon  November 16, 2021

    $40,000 for what would be better described as a 400 metre driveway, then I suggest Council sack its road crews along with the its “Councillor for Roads”, and engage private contractors to maintain our roads. Meanwhile Council road crews grade roads which don’t need grading (quick and easy jobs to get the kilometres up on the books) and spend mega-bucks on dead-end roads that service only one house, eg. Wenzels Rd Crawford. (Using Council’s figures that job would have cost ratepayers over $120,000)

    Reply
  3. Bouncer  November 16, 2021

    After the 2010-2011 floods a friend’s 200 metre dirt driveway was so badly rutted he was unable to use it with his 2WD. He hired an earth moving contractor who brought in a bobcat and truck loads of mixed size blue metal aggregate.

    The land is at the bottom of a hill on one side and it receives a LOT of runoff water when it rains. It also gets water running down the driveway from the rear of the property. In the floods it was like a river.

    The contractor increased the height of the driveway above the surrounding land and put in drainage channels along both sides of it. The cost for this now all-weather driveway was $2000.

    The work took two days to complete. Since then it has not deteriorated in any way, despite having been traversed by water cartage trucks, septic pump-out trucks, Ergon contractor trucks and many delivery vehicles as well as my friend’s own vehicles and those of visitors. Also, it’s not had to have any grading or other work done on it.

    So how can council officers arrive at an estimate of $40,000 plus regular maintenance costs? That estimate is totally ridiculous. Did they actually get some contractors to give quotes on the work? Perhaps council needs to re-think this issue. Get some real-world estimates from local earthmoving firms. My estimate, taking into account inflation, would be around $5000-$6000 at most. Anything above that would not be realistic.

    I’m thinking we need smarter people working for council and smarter councillors if they think the job would cost around $40k.

    Reply

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