CONTRACTORS hired by Mornington Peninsula Shire are struggling to keep up with demand to clear debris from last year’s storms.
The shire’s infrastructure services manager Tom Haines-Sutherland said there were still thousands of clean-up jobs to be completed despite the shire having “committed every resource we have to the clean-up”.
Mr Haines-Sutherland said there had many requests for help to clear debris and damage and the shire had brought in contractors to help, alongside the 12 crews already working on the clean-up.
“We obviously couldn’t get to every job at once, so have had to prioritise the work based on the level of risk and the impact on the community,” he said.
However, that situation did not sit well with elderly Rye resident David Bierwirth, who said he had contacted the shire “many times” over the mess left on his property from last November’s storms and heavy rains only to be told at one stage he should clear it himself.
To make matters worse, Mr Bierwirth – who suffers from a debilitating health condition – said he came home one day last week to find his neighbour’s property had been cleared of debris and the council had marked his job as “completed”, despite the remaining piles of debris and fallen trees.
Mr Bierwirth said he had written to the shire’s CEO John Baker when the storms brought down council trees and deposited mounds of debris on properties and footpaths, to no avail.
“I’ve been trying to get the mess of their rubbish cleared for almost five months now. I’m 70, my health is fragile, and I am disabled, but they say I can clear this myself if I do it and pay for it at the tip as well, even though it is their rubbish,” he said. “Apart from the debris, which covers more than 20 metres of nature strip, we now have grass and weeds growing among the branches, now almost a metre high and the grassed nature strip will now need to be re-sowed.
“The area is a fire hazard, having dried out over summer, and we have seen no action whatsoever from anyone from council. We have had excuse after excuse from council staff.
“My first email was answered by saying they will get back to me in around 12 business days. What kind of service is it when you can’t speak to anyone in charge or get any answers?”
Mr Haines-Sutherland said he acknowledged the frustration felt by some members of the community and wanted to “thank everyone for their patience with the time this work is taking”.
“The good news is we’ve completed 80 per cent of the work and we expect the remainder to be finished by the end of March,” he said.
Ms Bierwirth said that after contacting The News, contractors cleaned up the mess outside his property on Thursday.