Footpath renewal wreaks havoc for local community
Axed contractor botches job and blows out timeframes
THE recent footpath renewal project outside the post office and police station on High Street has caused confusion and hardship for local residents and businesses.
The awarded contractors were reportedly from outside of Mansfield, and have since been dismissed due to quality control issues, specifically traffic management standards.
Staff at surrounding businesses were disrupted when the NBN connection was mistakenly severed by the contractors, which was apparent when frayed cabling was observed strewn across the recently trenched footpath.
In some cases businesses were forced to make alternative arrangements to continue operating due to the lack of internet for several days, including the bank and post office.
The length of time the initial contractors were taking to complete the job also went beyond initially agreed timeframes.
Confusion and frustration from the local community was prevalent regarding the internet, post box and phone, when on the Mansfield and District Community Noticeboard, local Kirsten Lingard asked “Is there only the one post box (for posting a letter) outside the post office or are there others in town?”
The post box had seemingly been missing for a number of days due to the ongoing works, and while responses pointed out the box was presently inside the post office, and there were alternative boxes on Highett Street and Malcolm Street, the community’s dissatisfaction was apparent.
Peter Nugent responded: “The others don’t take wide envelopes or satchels like the one at the post office.
“It’s about time the council got those contractors back to finish or sack them and get Alpine to finish it. “Enough is enough.”
The shire did just that, with Ben Kipping from Alpine Civil confirming they’d taken over the project, which they tendered for originally but were unsuccessful due to pricing, as he understood.
“We got the call the other day asking to get here and sort it out,” said Ben.
“So we did, with our main priority being to get access back - particularly for the disabled and to stage the job out properly after that.”
Mayor Mark Holcombe apologised in his monthly report, noting the shire’s disappointment with the job done by the initial contractor.
“I would like to apologise for the inconvenience to residents as a result of the footpath renewal outside the post office and police station on High Street,” said Cr Holcombe.
“The contractor awarded this project has been very disappointing and has not met the standards or timeframes required by council.
“As such the contractor has been removed from the job and now replaced.”
Shire chief executive officer, Kaylene Conrick, expanded on the original contractor’s removal and the anticipated completion of the works.
“The footpath provides important access to services, including the Mansfield Post Office, and we needed to ensure a short timeframe for completion of the project while maintaining safe access during the works,” Ms Conrick said.
“Our community have high expectations of our footpath network and we need to meet these expectations with a limited budget.
“While we try to support local business whenever possible, price is a key consideration in our selection of contractors.”
The shire didn’t offer comment on the cost disparity between the initial contract price and expected cost at project’s end, but confirmed the job would be completed imminently.
“Works have continued well past initially agreed timeframes,” Ms Conrick said.
“The decision to engage local contractors is made with the goal of rectifying these issues as soon as possible.
“We expect the works to be completed by August 25.”