Mansfield Courier

Footpath renewal wreaks havoc for local community

Axed contractor botches job and blows out timeframes

- BY SHAUN McMAHON smcmahon@nemedia.com.au

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.”

 ??  ?? BLOWOUT: Frustratio­n from the local community was prevalent regarding the severed internet connection and displaced post box and phone.
BLOWOUT: Frustratio­n from the local community was prevalent regarding the severed internet connection and displaced post box and phone.
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