A back-and-forth exchange broke out at a public council meeting over trees and just when Warrnambool's councillors should be informed about complaints.
During public question time last week, Warrnambool Ratepayers Association member Brian Kelson said he had been contacted by a number of residents about Norfolk Island pine trees damaging their properties.
Concerns about the condition of a laneway that runs between Ellerslie Grove and Timor Street were also raised.
"I understand the condition of the laneway has been brought to the attention of the council. It has not been satisfactorily repaired. We've had Band-aid solution which serves no purpose," Mr Kelson said. He said it was "terrible to walk on" and was awkward for the elderly to use. "I understand that we've had elderly people fall. This has fallen on deaf ears. When will the laneway be fixed permanently?"
Chief executive officer Peter Schneider said it was one of a number of unsealed laneways and roadways in the municipality that would be upgraded in the coming financial year when budget funds became available.
The designs had been completed, Mr Schneider said, and included drainage, sealing and speed humps to reduce the water flow and any material washing down the laneway when it rained.
In the meantime, he said staff would continue to clear the material from the footpath to maintain pedestrian safety.
Mr Kelson said the issue had been raised with the Warrnambool City Council during meetings with Mr Schneider and the mayor, and he questioned whether any of the councillors had been told about the meetings.
Mr Kelson, a former councillor himself, asked for a show of hands. Former mayor Vicki Jellie said she had been told that there had been a meeting, but not what was discussed.
Mr Kelson said he did not think it was good enough that most of the councillors didn't know the meeting had taken place about concerns from ratepayers. "I think you guys should know exactly what's going on," he said.
Mr Kelson also raised concerns about the trimming of the city's Norfolk Island pine trees.
"We've got the root system of these trees actually penetrating into the ratepayers houses, into their properties. We have branches overhanging the garages of the properties. We have the pines filling up the guttering and causing damage through flooding," he said. "And heaven forbid, if one of those limbs come down and hurt somebody or worse.
"Are we going to get proper trimming of these trees so these people can live in a harmonious relationship with the council?"
Mr Schneider said that customer requests were looked at, staff continued to monitor the trees and encroachment on properties, and action would be taken where possible.
Mr Kelson thanked Mr Schneider for his answer but asked why the councillors had not been informed about the problems so they could make an informed decision on what should take place.
Mr Schneider responded by saying Mr Kelson had exceeded his questions allowed under the rules.
However, he pointed out that all requests from ratepayers did not necessarily go through the council, and were handled administratively. "Councillors will get involved from time to time but not over every request that comes through," Mr Schneider said.
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