Poor planning and contract management? 

When somebody constructs something, whether they be small business, state government or Wellington Shire, they are required to ensure that the construction is completed in a way that will not cause loss or damage to any member of the community.

When the RTA constructs a road they must not block drains and cause farmland to be flooded, when small business lays down new flooring in a takeaway food store, the tiles must provide good footing so people don’t slip and fall over, and when Wellington constructs something it must be done in a way that does not cause problems or increase the possibility of injury, loss or damage.

In the Cunninghame St mall there is a glaring example of poor planning that could cause injury, loss or damage.

The shops on the north side of the mall are, as any Sale resident will know, facing the prevailing bad weather, and one expects that is the reason why previously there was a noticeable but comfortable to walk on slope between the front of a shops and the drainage points to minimise the possibility of pavement flooding and of storm-driven water entering those shops.

The mall reconstruction work currently being completed has deleted that protective slope and exposed the shops to the onslaught of storm-driven rainwater.

Flooding and water damage is now a certainty; it is only a matter of time.

Additionally council will (one expects) plant deciduous trees that in autumn storms will drop most of their leaves to ride on the rainwater to block the drains.

Storm blockages have previously occurred and now with no protective slope, even minor temporary blockages will flood the shops.

The foreman from company which has been given the contract by the shire to do the mall redevelopment work is a pleasant fellow.

When asked whether or not the redevelopment plans had levels that he had to work to for the pavements, he advised that there were no levels on the plans and that it was up to him to construct the pavements in a reasonable manner.

When asked why there was perhaps 10 to 13 centimetres less fall than previously over a distance of three or four meters, he seemed lost for an answer.

He was only able to say that there was some fall and that it must be obvious to anybody water won’t run uphill.

The concept of wind-driven rain does not seem to have occurred to him.

A letter has been written to the shire asking them to do something to remedy the problem to protect the shops from storm-driven rain or otherwise agree that it will pay for damage and trading losses as and when that occurs at any future date.

I am not hopeful of a clear answer.

I expect a denial (which would amount to denying that it will rain again) or perhaps a redirection of blame.

It would however be reasonable to expect that someone will have to admit that they commissioned a million dollar works project without properly considering drainage, or even ensuring that construction levels were included in the plans.

Without levels on the plans, the pleasant fellow doing the work will perhaps be able to say that he did the work to plan, so it’s not his problem.

If anyone doubts the change to the footpath levels they need only stand between the jewellery store and the clock tower and look west.

They will see the previous pavement level alongside the new pavement level and will see at least 10 to 13cm difference.

And if anyone says the above is an isolated example, I suggest they look at the footpath outside the Desailly St retail post office to see that council allowed (or did not stop) Australia Post putting a large switchboard in the middle of the footpath when, as everybody knows, shire regulations state that no trader is to place any form of display or advertisement on the walkway to quite properly protect the visually impaired.

Finally, I am proud to be a Wellington Shire resident.

The shire has many dedicated employees and managers doing great work.

Unfortunately their efforts are occasionally undermined by poor planning or lack of supervision.