Wayward spraying upsets residents

Maurice and Pauline Prendergast examine the handiwork of a Dunedin City Council contractor who missed weeds but sprayed healthy grass outside their Wingatui home. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Maurice and Pauline Prendergast examine the handiwork of a Dunedin City Council contractor who missed weeds but sprayed healthy grass outside their Wingatui home. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Weeds might be escaping the attention of Dunedin City Council contractors' sprayguns but it appears perfectly healthy strips of grass aren't always so lucky.

Days after concerns were raised about weeds getting out of hand, former city councillor Maurice Prendergast has complained about spraying on a grass verge outside his Wingatui home.

It appeared the council contractor had missed some of the weeds clogging a stormwater ditch outside his home but scored a direct hit on nearby neatly cropped grass.

The target zone was a piece of council-owned road reserve which now boasted a long strip of dead grass, while the nearby ditch still sported a healthy clump of weeds at one end.

The weeds were supposed to be sprayed to prevent them blocking the ditch and causing flooding, but it appeared the contractor had ''paid no attention whatsoever to the job description'', Mr Prendergast said.

''It's awful.''

He believed whoever did the work was riding a quad bike and using a boom to apply the spray.

They had managed to spray one end of the ditch full of weeds but not the other end, and other sections of ditch further up his street were not sprayed at all.

He believed the council should enforce any penalty clause in the contract to punish the contractor for the quality of their work.

His wife, Pauline, said the quality of work was ''disgusting''.

Council roading maintenance engineer Peter Standring said the latest complaint would be investigated and the contractor asked to rectify the fault at their own cost.

Spraying was part of the council road maintenance contract held by Fulton Hogan but subcontracted to Delta.

Penalty clauses were part of the contract, but for ''gross negligence'', and the council preferred to see how contractors responded to lower-level complaints, Mr Standring said.

He had no particular concerns with the overall quality of work, despite recent criticisms, and had not received any other complaints similar to the Prendergasts'.

''You are talking about the small percentage ... the majority of the work that's done is done to a good standard.

''It [recent problems] is out of standard, it's out of sorts, but it will take nothing to get it back into shape,'' he said.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Weed control

The quality of weed spraying around most of the city is appalling. This summer has been particularly bad with large clumps of mature weeds and grass a common sight in many pavement cracks and gutters. Dunedin streets look unkempt and uncared for and have a ghost town look about them in some places. The contractors really need to be fined for not fulfilling their obligations. But, of course the DCC only checks these things when residents complain - bad form!

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