A roundabout in East Street emerges at another Parkes Shire Council meeting

GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES: The East Street and Clarinda Street roundabout debate has emerged at a Parkes Shire Council meeting again.
GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES: The East Street and Clarinda Street roundabout debate has emerged at a Parkes Shire Council meeting again.

Parkes residents were just one vote away from getting a roundabout at the East Street and Clarinda Street intersection at the last Parkes Shire Council meeting.

Councillor Kenny McGrath requested an update on the status of a roundabout at the intersection during the Questions and Matters of Urgency section of the February 19 meeting.

Cr McGrath says he's been pushing for a roundabout at the location for 20 years, the last time raising it at a council meeting in August.

After a 20 minute discussion - during which council's Director of Works and Services Ben Howard said the next step would be to do a detailed survey of the site and that any construction would require funding - Cr McGrath pushed for council to spend $1.5 million on the roundabout.

The proposal was supported by three of Cr McGrath's fellow councillors - Cr Bill Jayet, Cr Louise O'Leary and Cr Neil Westcott - but the vote was lost 5-4 when Cr Ken Keith OAM, Cr George Pratt, Cr Alan Ward, Cr Barbara Newton and Cr Pat Smith opposed the idea.


The biggest concern for councillors against the motion was Clarinda Street was a state road managed by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and that council would be spending its own and ratepayers' money on the roundabout.

"We can get all this money to build all these walking tracks for these people to do around town, now none of them pay any registration or fees or anything like that, they just walk on them for nothing. All these people who use these roads pay money," Cr McGrath said.

"The RMS seem to think it's not a black spot...you have to have someone killed before they'll do something and I think that's wrong."

Mr Howard said council had begun investigations into construction costs, relocation of Telstra and Essential Energy - two "significant" power poles - property, a draft road design, drainage and kerbing - coming to an estimated total of $1.5 million.

He also said there may need to be minor land acquisitions on the two northern corners of the roundabout to accommodate heavy vehicles.

"As previously advised, this asset is on the state highway network and any project approvals and any future funding allocations would need to be agreed and accepted by the RMS," Mr Howard said.

"Obviously it's not a cheap project...we will need to work with the RMS and...we will need to gain funding under the current program."

Cr McGrath said for most roundabouts it was a matter of "putting a block of concrete in the middle of the road and the cars just drive around it". 

"But what we're going to do, we're going to reinvent the whole thing and I can't see why we have to because the vehicles are going around there now...there's trucks turning around there all day as it is," he said.

"It's exactly the same thing. All we're going to do is make it more accessible and easier for people so they can get around, it's just too slow, it's too big of a hold-up."

Cr McGrath said the work was not worth a million dollars and that council should do something about it.

"I'm sick of - and people see it all the time - all this money spent on footpaths...three or four people might use it a week and yet this is used everyday, constantly," he said.

"You can see the difference it's made to Currajong Street.

"I can't see why we can't get grants to do something like that, when we can get grants to do all these other things, yet we can't get something that people really want and that would really help us...It's the community that wants it not me.

"It just seems we're sitting on our hands doing nothing."

Mr Howard said valuing the project will give them a true indication of what the costs would be so council can look into grants.

"The question is how much do we want to input because the grant is not for free," he said.

Mr Howard added that the Currajong Street roundabout was a smaller version and still cost $650,000.

Cr Keith said the RMS agreed with Cr McGrath that a roundabout would help that intersection but they "don't see it as a priority".

"And certainly this council has never supported spending that sort of money on a state road," he said.

"I don't think we want to take $1.5 million out of our roads budget and spend it on that roundabout.

"It's really getting the RMS to decide that's a high enough priority intersection to spend that level of money."

Cr Westcott questioned how much engineering was involved that it "[had] to be $1.5 million with a palm tree in the middle".

Council's general manager Kent Boyd had no doubts a roundabout would work but said "who's going to pay for it?"

"It would be the first time we'd spend our own money on someone's asset," he said.