Inner-city mayors leave Sydney’s roads in ruins

 

SYDNEY'S most cashed up councils - who have not lowered their parking fines - are also home to some of the worst roads, exclusive data from the NRMA showed.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the councils that raked in the most money from parking fines also had some of the highest numbers of road complaints.

And instead of spending on roads many of them - including the Inner West, City of Sydney, Central Coast and Waverley - are putting their energies into declaring climate emergencies.

Inner West Council raked in $14.3 million in parking fines in the last financial year, was in the top 10 for tyre related NRMA call outs with 690 calls, and declared a climate emergency in May.

A new pothole opens up on the corner of Ourimbah rd & Macpherson at Mosman. Picture John Grainger
A new pothole opens up on the corner of Ourimbah rd & Macpherson at Mosman. Picture John Grainger

An NRMA spokeswoman said the tyre-related calls included pot holes and tire issues which can result from driving on poor roads.

An Inner West Council spokeswoman revealed they had 1081 pothole call outs from residents and a whopping $30m maintenance backlog.

"At 30 June 2018 … Council estimated the Road Infrastructure Assets back log at $30 million," she said.

Despite acknowledging they have received several claims from motorists who have suffered damage because of potholes and poor roads - Inner West Council has not paid a single claim in 2019.

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City of Sydney ranked highest for its parking fine revenue with more than $39m earnt in the financial year 2018-19. Yet the area's roads are some of the worst, resulting in 776 call outs from motorists in the past 60 days.

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said cashed-up councils had no excuses for the state of their roads.

"There are two or three councils in greater Sydney who I don't think can put their hand up and say they don't have any money, (I) expect them to get on top of it. The Inner West, North Sydney should be out there as soon as they can fixing potholes," he said.

"(Potholes will be rife) where there's work being done around light rail, up on around Pennant Hills Rd near Northconnex, Princes Highway. But there should be less than usual on Parramatta Rd with WestConnex open, the onus is on councils to get out there quickly."

This week's rain has resulted in a bumpy ride for motorists with large pot holes spotted on the Harbour Bridge, Mosman and near Macquarie Park.

Mr Khoury said councils should be working around the clock to fix Sydney roads and an excuse of not having enough cash isn't good enough. Many of the councils with the highest call outs also failed motorists by not reducing their fines to the government's recommended $80 after an ongoing review slashed fines down from $110.

Potholes on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Picture: Brett Costello
Potholes on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Picture: Brett Costello

More than a year out from the changes just 20 of the state's 128 councils have lowered the cost of parking fines, prompting Treasurer Dominic Perottet to slam councils for treating taxpayers as "cash cows."

Councils gouging taxpayers with hefty parking fines while pocketing millions "should be ashamed of themselves," said Mr Khoury.

"The fact their poorer cousins have brought parking fines in line with the NSW Government shows it can be done. It shows those councils understand it's not about revenue raising but managing parking spaces. The ones that haven't need to drop these fines."

Central Coast Council made $3.1m in parking fines and had 1003 call out on its roads while Ryde council - which declared a climate emergency in June - had 422 call outs and brought in $4.5m in fines.

Ryde Councillor Jordan Lane said councils that rely on fines for their base budget have an incentive to penalise more people.

"Given the enormous amount of fines given out, it makes sense to reduce the fine to the government approved amount, initially council agreed but the Mayor back flipped because it would cause a revenue back hole," he said.

"If you're relying on fines to make your budget then you have a serious issue. Meanwhile we are off declaring climate emergencies which are well-intentioned but outside our remit. Let's focus on getting our roads right first.

"Roads, rates and rubbish should be our focus."

RMS crew fill up a large pothole on the M1 turn off at Wahroonga last week. Picture: Adam Yip
RMS crew fill up a large pothole on the M1 turn off at Wahroonga last week. Picture: Adam Yip

Wagga Wagga Councillor Paul Funnell, whose council recently lowered parking fines, said most councils are greedily pocketing revenue raked in from fines.

"It's just a cash grab for overpaid bureaucrats."

"We collect close to a million in parking fines and by the time you pay the recovery office you end up with 12.5 per cent of that."

Independent City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster also said council's massive parking cash grab was inexcusable.

"Not only has the City raked in $39 million in parking revenue, we have over $620 million in the bank. It's completely unacceptable that our roads are in such a poor state. 776 callouts for potholes in the last 60 days averages out to almost 13 per day. It's just not good enough."

The climate emergency has become a front for real action, she said.

"The 'climate emergency' is absolutely taking precedence over the condition of our roads. The old adage of 'roads, rates and rubbish' has been completely thrown out the window by the Clover Moore administration."

A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said Sydney Harbour Bridge is checked twice weekly for defects.

"A number of potholes were identified on Tuesday 17 September, with maintenance crews carrying out repairs (that) night," she said.

The City of Sydney does not manage issues on the bridge however, said they had received 534 call out requests for pot holes so far this year.

Multiple councils said several claims for damage caused by potholes on council roads were denied.

Waverley Council received 351 pothole call outs this year. Of the 17 damage claims made, nine were denied payouts.

A spokeswoman for Mosman councils said they respond to 50 call outs on average a year but do not offer any payouts for damages.



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