‘Done deal’

Ombudsman complaint: Roundabouts ‘assured’ a month before consultation

AN email included in a complaint lodged with WA’s ombudsman suggests Vincent council pre-determined the installation of controversial mini roundabouts in North Perth before consulting ratepayers.

The roundabouts have been criticised by some locals as only benefiting cars at the expense of pedestrian and cyclist safety (“A little risky,” Voice, March 27, 2021).

Those critics are now pointing fingers at the council saying a report to elected members over-stated support for the trial roundabouts.

The report claimed supporters and opponents were evenly mixed; 30 for, 30 against and 13 unsure. But when resident Geraldine Box did her own count, she came up with 27 for, 40 against and 6 unsure. The Voice’s own count came up similar; 26 for, 38 against and 9 unsure.

The council installed nine mini roundabouts at the urging of Main Roads which was funding the 12-month experiment.

Resident Andrew Main lodged a complaint with the WA ombudsman, citing an email from Main Roads to Vincent council back in March – a month before the consultation – which makes the roundabouts sound like a done deal.

Main Road’s mildly bossy missive to Vincent states: “It is of concern that as a result of the delay to the consultation process the opportunity to report to your March 23 council meeting has been missed and therefore this will now add a month delay to the project; as now the earliest you are able to report to council is to the meeting of April 28, 2021.  

“I note that Craig gave the assurance that the works will still be delivered by end June 2021.”

“Jerko Ostoic, (director road access and planning at Main Roads), has expressed his deep concern that the consultation process has been delayed and that the city may now not meet its ability to deliver the scheme.”

No matter what Mr Main wrote in his complaint the email was 

“evidence that strongly suggests there was an agreement between officers of the City of Vincent and Main Roads for the initiative to be implemented by June 2021 – no matter what”.

The ombudsman declined to investigate because Mr Main lives too far from the roundabouts. 

Vincent CEO David MacLennan told the Voice: “the city never guaranteed to Main Roads that this project would go ahead,” only that it would be proposed to council for a vote after the consultation.

“The consultation was genuine. The results were not fudged,” he says.

“The public consultation produced a mixed result for and against the trial which was expected as this was a new traffic intervention for Vincent. But the feedback from our community on road safety is unambiguous.

“Our residents want to reduce car speeds and rat running on our residential streets, particularly in North Perth where several intersections have had severe crashes.

“Road safety is not a popularity contest. It is about reducing the risk of being killed or seriously injured on the road.

“There was a strong case to proceed with the 12-month trial in partnership with Main Roads despite some of the concerns raised during the public consultation process.

“We will review the results at the end of the trial period but so far we have received very positive feedback from residents.”

Mr MacLennan said he would review the consultation results and was willing to meet with concerned residents to go over how each was categorised.

He added there was no single traffic project Vincent staff were so wedded to that they’d fudge numbers.

“It’s more important to keep peoples’ faith in the consultation process,” he said. “I’d consider any fudging of numbers to be misconduct.”

by DAVID BELL

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