Subcontractor defended over roadside vegetation

Leaving the Sunnyvale Sports Centre after speaking at a Saddle Hill Community Board meeting last...
Leaving the Sunnyvale Sports Centre after speaking at a Saddle Hill Community Board meeting last week are (from left) Fulton Hogan operational manager Thomas Forde, maintenance divisional manager Paul Jamison and SouthRoads unsealed operations manager Simon Currie. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
A new Dunedin City Council subcontractor "dropped the ball" by allowing roadside vegetation to grow "extremely high", Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall says.

But the main contractor defended the company, which had been "trying to find their feet" and had brought in more resources to get the work done.

Mr Weatherall noted contractors had been working to control the vegetation "but why did we get to that stage?", he asked a panel of council staff and contractors at a board meeting in Sunnyvale last week.

Fulton Hogan operational manager Thomas Forde said vegetation control subcontractor Whitestone Contracting had been "trying to find their feet" and was "up to speed now".

"They are a new contractor to town, getting to know the area, building new kit and all those things compound and it’s put us behind the eight-ball".

Whitestone had brought in Madonna Contracting to do some of the work, including spraying road verges in Saddle Hill and Brighton.

"To their credit they’ve upped their resources to try and get on top of it," Mr Forde said.

Mr Weatherall said there was overgrown vegetation between Waldronville and Kaikorai Estuary which needed to be cut and sprayed.

Earlier in the meeting, council maintenance team leader Andrew Lord spoke about the council’s "collaborative" 10-year roading maintenance contract, which runs up to April 2030.

Changes under the new contract included roads in "outer zones", such as Brighton and Saddle Hill, being cleaned "as we see the need for it".

Before the new contract was signed, all outer zone roads were cleaned on a set roster "if it needed it or not".

The inner zone roads would continue to be cleaned on a set roster as per usual, he said.

Fulton Hogan maintenance divisional manager Paul Jamison, speaking at the meeting, said it won the tender for the contract to maintain sealed and unsealed roads.

As Fulton Hogan lacked the skill sets to complete some of the work, such as street cleaning, vegetation control and maintenance of gravel roads, it subcontracted businesses to do the work. The subcontractors brought on for specific work include SouthRoads for unsealed roads, Whitestone Contracting for vegetation control and Eco Maintenance for street cleaning.

"While these guys have full ownership in those specific areas and activities, at the end of the day, we are head contractor and the buck stops with us."

Board deputy chairman Paul Weir asked who made the decision when a street needed to be cleaned in an outer zone.

Mr Lord said it was a "combined decision" between the council, Fulton Hogan and Eco Maintenance.

"We will be getting out looking around and seeing where to go next."

Mr Weatherall said he was "surprised" outer zone roads were not being cleaned on a set rotation.

Rubbish was regularly dumped on the roadside between Green Island and Taieri Mouth and the area needed to be cleaned regularly.

Mr Lord said some roads in the outer zone could be included on a cleaning schedule.

Board member Keith McFadyen asked Mr Jamison if Fulton Hogan could provide a quote on how much it would cost to seal roads in the district, such as McMaster, Green Island Bush and Chain Hills Rds.

"We’ll keep fighting to get those roads sealed."

Mr Jamison said he would provide council information on the cost to seal the roads.

Mr Lord said if someone wanted to highlight some work, such as a pot hole in need of repair, the quickest way was to call the council’s customer service department on 477-4000.

The report would be given directly to the relevant contractor, he said.

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