THE Port News’ COUNCILLOR CANDIDATE Question Time starts todayand will until the election on September 8.
How our Question Time will work:
After asking for feedback from the public, we have narrowed down the three main issues to get the candidates to respond on.
This week each councillor and mayoral candidate has the opportunity to outline their stance (in
100 words or less) on roads and potholes.
We will run the responses from each of the candidates over our three editions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Next week (Week 2) we will run the candidates responses to the issue of The Glasshouse and general council spending policy.
In Week 3, we will gather their insights on business and jobs.
All of their responses will also appear in our print editions.
The Vision Test: As a separate exercise along a similarly themed idea, the Port News has devised a series of questions after our public consultation.
We have come up with 22 questions from the public feedback aimed at providing a broader insight into each candidate.
Candidates have the option of responding with 150 words to each question: we will then publish those responses online in full.
The aim of the exercise is to provide every candidate equal opportunity to respond with their personal insights.
We have asked each candidate to ensure each response is kept to a maximum of 100
words. Any answers beyond the 100-word limit will be cut from the bottom.
We are running the answers in the order that they have been returned to us at the newspaper.
The online responses will begin next week.
You, the voting public, will be able to make comments online to continue to have your say and let the council candidates know what you think.
Our upcoming election coverage over the next three weeks will include how to vote information, press releases from candidates, plus the expert coverage of LISA TISDELL on all the latest breaking news.
You also have the option of writing Letters To The Editor to help keep the feedback going in the run-up to this crucial election.
First up we asked council candidates for their stance on "roads and potholes" in 100 words or less. The first 11 responses of the 32 candidates are as follows:
Where there are roads then there will be potholes, a fact of life.
The busiest roads are the first priority to be maintained. There will always be a backlog of maintenance because no regional council has enough money in the budget.
For the future it will be important to have a better public transport system - more frequent, dependable, subsidised - and good cycleways. Both of these will ease pressure on the road system. I know that these ideas also use money. However public transport and cycling will become one of the 21st century's trends.
There needs to be a better process on prioritising the roads in the Greater Port Macquarie area.
Council at the moment is overwhelmed by the amount of repairs needed and can not cope.
There is a need for council to acquire funding from State and Federal Governments to meet the immediate needs to catch up.
I would push for sub-contractors to be involved in the large jobs and this in it self would cut costs.
This would alleviate the problem of council resources being spread too short that require attention yesterday.
(Mayoral and councillor candidate)
Keith Wilkinson said our roads are in an appalling state of disrepair and as a high priority has vowed to fix the situation.
"These roads are dangers and the holes are quite deep and someone is going to get hurt or worse".
The council's model for funding is broken.
We all need to start thinking strategically and laterally.
Therefore, I intend to work cooperatively and closely with Federal and State Government representatives and the Mid North Coast Group of Councils to source alternative funding e.g: secure a greater share of the State Government's GST.
There is no easy solution to this issue which affects the entire community.
It is not just the inconvenience they are dangerous.
It will take a lot of time and money and many councils to come to solve this problem.
We need a strategy to systematically replace or properly repair the roads beginning with the worst and working through them until they are all of an acceptable standard or better.
All available funding needs to be directed towards this problem.
The poor attempts at patching potholes is both costly and pointless.
As I am sure many would agree, our road network is in a sad and sorry state. How we address the issue of road maintenance needs to fit into an overall theme of efficiency in how Council carries out its day-to-day operations. I believe Council will need to reassess how it tackles the upkeep of our roads - our next councillors will need to ask the following questions:
* How efficiently are staff, resources and time being used?
* Are we consulting the community effectively on how road repairs are being handled?
* Are ratepayers getting good value for money?
I, like many residents in our region, am concerned with the current state of our roads which not only includes the disrepair but the lack of quality repair and resurfacing of our local roads.
If elected, I intend to seek a comparative review involving the construction and maintenance cost undertaken by council staff and that of contractors including the quality of such work and whether ratepayers are obtaining best value for money and the work meets Australian standards.
Furthermore I also await the outcome of the NSW Government's green paper which includes infrastructure planning and costs for local government areas.
(Mayoral and councillor candidate)
The decline must stop.
This is the most complained about issue which I hear about every day. It is concerning that a motorist would choose an upgraded dirt road in preference to our bitumen.
The previous administrator did some quick fixes.
One of the roads I drive on was resurfaced and within a couple of months the road had
sheered through, meaning the road has to be done again.
This becomes a high cost to council and prevents more work being done and work
should be done as a matter of safety.
A councillor's job is to instruct the highly qualified staff to allocate funding to grade roads and fill every pothole immediately to stop the further destruction of the road infrastructure.
Then the resurfacing repairs will account for about 30 per cent of the council funds for the next 10 years to return roads to a good condition.
Serious questions regarding council’s ability to continue borrowing millions of dollars to repair infrastructure when the state’s funding only pays the first 4 per cent of the infrastructure but leaves a growing debt.
More rate rises are unacceptable and no cost grants from state
and federal are unlikely.
(Mayoral and councillor candidate)
I’d audit the roads and prioritise the need for attention. Fill the most dangerous potholes as a stop-gap safety measure and grade the dirt roads in the Hastings.
Budget to tear up and reseal bad roads one by one.
All roads which are torn up and resealed would be done with a view to getting at least 20 years service from them.
This would probably mean concrete for high traffic volume roads which is expensive, but would work out cheaper due to the longevity of concrete construction.
It would take time, but would be worth it in the long run.
My platform emphasises a re-focus by council on the three R’s - roads, rates and rubbish.
I cannot praise highly enough the state of the art waste management facility operated by
However the roads are obviously another story altogether.
The number one requirement when addressing the local roads issue is that we
have to be realistic.
Council has over 1300km of roads dispersed over a large geographic area.
Because of council’s current financial predicament, we can’t expect miracles but
council will need to prioritise roads over other grandiose schemes and growth for its own sake.
This is the No 1 issue for most council residents.
■Worsened by our weather pattern returning to a much wetter environment.
■ Three-pronged strategy
(i) immediate - a coordinated repair program compiled with reference to council’s recent audit of its roads network maximising best use of the limited finances available;
(ii) mid term - use best available alternatives and advice to competently complete planned projects.
Would involve outsourcing to external proven contractors using proper
contractual documentation; and
(iii) long term - break the current funding disaster and proactively pursue a better funding model.
■ The over-arching goal is to get ahead of the problem.