9 August, 2023
Bhalla hits the road for a firsthand view
Horsham Rural City Council CEO Sunil Bhalla joined a high profile "road gang" this week to inspect some of the region's roads. Mr Bhalla led a team of council managers and operations supervisors on Monday's road trip - organised "partly in response...
Horsham Rural City Council CEO Sunil Bhalla joined a high profile "road gang" this week to inspect some of the region's roads.
Mr Bhalla led a team of council managers and operations supervisors on Monday's road trip - organised "partly in response to concerns expressed by the community", according to HRCC.
A recent community survey conducted by independent researchers under state government obligations found residents increasingly dissatisfied with Horsham council, with many especially critical of the state of council managed roads.
The condition of local roads was singled out as requiring "extra attention" after registering the lowest ratings of community satisfaction on record - a fall of almost 30 per cent.
Mr Bhalla and colleagues inspected gravel roads in the Kalkee, Polkemmet, Grass Flat, Natimuk, Telangatuk and Wonwondah areas.
“It is good to see first-hand the condition of our roads, particularly following the very wet June,” Mr Bhalla said.
“The roads we inspected have been the subject of customer requests over the past 12 months, and it is pleasing to see where problem roads have been addressed by our staff to improve their condition."
A council spokesperson said an unnamed local resident accompanied the group in the Grass Flat area.
“It was interesting to hear his observations and concerns about council’s roads," Mr Bhalla said.
Over the past three years, council has increased the budget for gravel road re-sheeting from about $600,000 to $900,000, and then to $1 million in this year’s budget.
"It is pleasing to see this being effectively delivered on the ground," Mr Bhalla said.
“But still I acknowledge there are roads that, even with recent grading, are starting to show that their gravel layer is wearing thin, and it is time for them to be placed on the list for re-sheeting in the next program.
“Council has a systematic process for planning this process, where the depth of gravel on roads is manually checked to determine which roads have the highest priority for re-sheeting.
"It was good to compare this information from across the municipality with actual conditions on the ground.”
The inspection group also visited some areas that are subject to flood recovery works.
Mr Bhalla said this work was "progressing well across the municipality", but would still take 6-12 months to complete.
“We know we need to keep improving our roads," he said.
"It is a huge focus for the team – both in terms of budget and resources.”
Residents can report road defects via HRCC’s online service request system or by calling 5382 9777.