Hunters Hill Council’s horrendous infrastructure backlog about 604% worse than they thought!

Have you ever thought that Hunters Hill Council isn’t maintaining the footpaths and roads well enough?

Have you ever thought it must be a Council of low aspirations if they think this IS good enough?

Did you see the other Councillors vote against Councillors Ben Collins and Zac Miles Motion to Hunters Hill Council on 11th February 2019 to commit to addressing the backlog, and wondered whether they’re ever going to fix the roads and footpaths?

Have you thought that Hunters Hill Council might have been in denial when they said they have the scale and capacity to continue without being amalgamated?

Have you thought these roads and footpaths JUST AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH?

Well it turns out YOU ARE CORRECT!

In the Agenda for the Extraordinary General Meeting (4469) of Hunters Hill Council held on Monday 21st October 2019, draft financial statements were presented that are informed by a better review
 of assets than Council has performed in prior years.

It turns out that prior years’ reporting of the condition of our assets and infrastructure backlog, and cost to bring them up to the level set by Council, has been GROSSLY under-reported. In the Schedule 7 to the Financial Statements for the year ending 30th June 2018 that figure was reported at $3,955,000.

With the new General Manager (GM), and a new Asset Management Engineer, and actually looking at it properly, that value is estimated at $27,858,000!

Assuming no significant movement between the 2018 and 2019 condition of assets, given that the main driver
 of this year’s increased value is Council’s NEW KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS, the infrastructure backlog problem is bigger than was previously recognised – by approximately 604%!

(in the absence of reliable information, we can only assume that the actual infrastructure backlog value last year should have been similar to the best estimate we currently have for this year)

The report with the Agenda of that meeting on 21st October 2019, as well information given by staff at the meeting to explain the situation, confirm that the current number is a better informed estimate but they have only surveyed the roads at this stage and are yet to complete surveying of the footpaths and other assets (in progress or scheduled). The figure may rise further.

Refer to PDF page numbers 96,97, and 169 (footnote page numbers 93, 94, and 166 respectively) at

Similar to the Councillors, we do not blame the new GM Lisa Miscamble, or other current senior staff, for this legacy issue. To the contrary they should be (and were) thanked for their professionalism and diligence in bringing this horrendous issue of under-reporting of facts to light. We’re not saying it was deliberate lying in the past. It could have been incompetence, or maybe there is some other explanation for it.

Councillor Ben Collins’ comments at the meeting, starting at 36:00 minutes (for 5 minutes) are worth watching even if you don’t have time to watch the whole meeting.

Councillors fixing the problem?

As referred by Councillor Ben Collins during the meeting on 21st October 2019,  Councillors’ Ben Collins and Zac Miles requested the Motion which is copied below (in italics) in Hunters Hill Council Meeting 4454 on 11th February 2019, inviting Council to commit to fixing the roads and footpaths.


Notice of Motion
1. That Council adopts a policy of restoring sealed roads, footpaths, kerbs and guttering, and other road assets to the agreed level of service set by council;
2. That Council adopts a policy of budgeting for all required maintenance and restoration costs on infrastructure assets in the annual budget delivered each year;
3. That Council undertakes a review of all infrastructure assets and brings back a report to Council in March outlining the estimated costs to bring all infrastructure assets to a satisfactory standard.

Do we just point out problems or do we try to help fix them?

Of course we try to help.

On 18th April 2018 (more than 18 months ago) the header image of this email, a person riding a quad-bike with mounted equipment, was posted on Facebook Group “In the Cove”. It was suggested that they may be surveying Lane Cove Council assets – roads and footpaths.

A member of the Committee of Gladesville Community Group, Russell Young, posted below on “Captive Councillor” (a Facebook Group created by Hunters Hill Councillor Elizabeth Krassoi) in April 2018. That discussion is copied below, in italics. Even in April 2018 we could see the value in a high-quality review of our assets condition and the response from Hunters Hill Council was to accept reactive reporting focussing on micro-issues instead of proactively and systematically reviewing assets with best-practice as our neighbouring Council was doing at the macro level.

RY: Hi Councillors, there’s suggestion this could be surveying Council assets – roads and footpaths around Lane Cove. If it’s true, could this be done in HHC also?Systemic monitoring and management of assets would be much better than relying on frustrated residents to report condition. I know there are raised footpath slabs that form trip hazards in Cowell St (and elsewhere no doubt) where the big fig tree roots get under them, and it would be good risk management to have periodic surveys and to ensure that high foot-traffic areas are attended to as appropriate. A risk-based approach.
I’d be amazed if there was any survey going on of the footpaths around the Gladesville commercial precinct – which has higher foot traffic than other areas because of the high level of pedestrian activity. Some of those trip hazards in streets where a lot of retail staff and shoppers walk really need to be monitored and addressed more frequently.
CC: Hi Russ Young I understand that Council does have a schedule of road and footpath works that is reviewed and approved ongoing on top of essential call outs. I know that a schedule of road upgrades was approved some months ago and is on the website. I’ll email steve and ask if there is more we can share and do. Meanwhile other councillors may recall more. Watch this space and thanks for the info. I wonder what that little buggy is??
RY: Thanks Elizabeth
CC: Russ, Barry Smith our GM has replied. I’m attaching here the link to the community strategic plan where you can download the roads and related assets plan which outlines the priorities to 2030. Barry also suggested, as this is an operational question, that a call to himself or dhruba would be welcome if you have more questions. I’ll have another read too and happy to assist if you have further questions or suggestions on this. Our next community strategic plan is in final workings so a good time for comment coming very soon. Put In a call to Council if you want to ensure a particular street definitely makes it into the next stage. http://www.huntershill.nsw.

CC: Quoting: Roads and footpaths are inspected regularly and at least annually for a condition assessment to meet the AAS. Maintenance is undertaken in accordance with the adopted Asset Management Plans that form one part of the Resourcing Strategy that supports the Community Strategic Plan. The AMPs are reviewed annually as part of the budget process.
RY: Thanks Elizabeth. It’s really the effectiveness of that review that I’m focusing on. These trip hazard slabs have been what I think is dangerous for quite a while, and even something as simple as the pepper tree branches blocking access to the pedestrian layback at the designated point of crossing has been a long persisting problem.
CC: Russ Young hi. Would you email this photo and location once again to Council and, if you wouldn’t mind, a copy to me as well.

What can we have – if we can’t have safe footpaths and decent roads?

We can have Hunters Hill Day, for anti-amalgamation campaigners to gloat over the victory against the NSW Government on a legal technicality that prevented Hunters Hill Council from being amalgamated with neighbours. Did we really win something good?

We can have fairy lights in the fig trees at the top of Cowell St, lights by which to trip on bad footpaths.

We can have 10% per annum rates increases as we’ve had this year.

We can have bad roads and footpaths until or unless Councillors vote to fix them, instead of leaving millions of dollars in the bank so we look strong on paper – against the next amalgamation initiative whenever a NSW Government gets around to it.

Like children having dessert instead of dinner if they’re allowed, some of our Councillors seem more focussed on projects that deliver photo opportunities while people trip on our footpaths and smash their faces because asset maintenance doesn’t make for sexy politics. BUT IT IS THE JOB OF LOCAL COUNCIL AND UNTIL NOW HUNTERS HILL COUNCIL MISUNDERSTOOD THE COST OF THAT REQUIREMENT BY ABOUT 604%.

Lets see what promises we get when aspiring Mayors start saying ‘the right thing’ ahead of the Local Council elections 2020.

From the team at Gladesville Community Group