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.
- Related article: Map Error Unearths Bigger Issues
[UPDATED with correction]