Councillor passes buck to staff


2619 council works 1 OK
2619 council works 14 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The reaction “I’m going to my local Member” when a government organisation messes up is as old as democracy.
But that apparently is no longer an option when it comes to the Alice Springs Town Council.
“I won’t comment on your story – you need to approach the director or CEO as its operational and the managers need to look after the works and achieve the required standard of verge works.”
That was the response by Cr Glen Auricht, the council’s Technical Services Committee chairman, to me as the editor of this newspaper and a resident (I had made both roles clear to him).
This followed a mini-revolution in Schaber Road, in the town’s rural area, when council staff proceeded to raze native grasses and trees (at right). These had been lovingly nurtured by Bruce Simmons and other residents, after clearing out the buffel grass, creating the most attractive rural road in the Alice Springs area. (I walk there most mornings.)
The council staff had gone to work on the road verges using an assortment of heavy equipment, including a grader.
Six of us approached the workers and to their credit they stopped work, gave us the phone number of a supervisor who swiftly pulled out the crew. However, much damage had already been done.
Cr Auricht’s attitude finds no support from former Deputy Mayor Steve Brown: During his term on the council between 2012 and 2017 he explicitly urged people who had complaints to come to him.
2619 council works 12 OKHe confirmed that attitude this week when asked to comment on the events described here: “That’s what councillors are there for,” he said.
Mr Brown’s opinion is straight forward: The chain of command is from the elected council member to the CEO who then deals with the staff, with the councillor keeping a watching brief and making sure the complaint is dealt with satisfactorily.
Left: Surviving native vegetation on a section of Schaber Road untouched by the council crew.
On March 6 I described the Schafer Road situation  to Cr Auricht, illustrating each point with a photograph.
The work was, in principle, to clear culverts under driveways, but in reality it had cleared the lightly vegetated verges and turned them into a bit of bare desert. When the crew was withdrawn, the culverts remain blocked.
The work supervisor explained that the culvert clearing is done by a vacuum device which flushes and pumps the soil out – not a big job.
We suggested that clearing of the entire verge was unnecessary achieve this end and  that the sparsely vegetated verges presented  no obstacle to water flows other than slowing it down (which makes the flora grow).
2465 Glen Auricht OKWe asked Cr Auricht (at left) to comment: Is there a policy setting a high standard for this kind of work being done, in keeping with best practice for verge maintenance and drainage, respecting native vegetation and, most importantly, neighbourhood amenity?
How can you make sure work plans adhere to such a policy, if it exists?
2618 packaging fragments Col Rose Dr 1 OKWe also raised with him another issue and supplied photographic evidence (at right).
This styrofoam packing case was in one piece on Colonel Rose Drive until the council mover arrived.
We asked, does the mower driver have a rubbish bag and is he meant to use it?
Cr Auricht’s advice to approach the director for answers failed: We emailed the questions to the acting director at 8.22am on Friday, requesting a reply by close of business yesterday, but have not heard from him.


  1. Well done. This is how the town council sees the land: just get it back to dirt and when anyone asks, I am not sure, try someone else.

  2. I have never rung up a councilor about any matter because I have no idea whom to choose.
    This story illustrates the difficulty we have in not having council wards. If there was a councilor for my part of town I would undoubtedly discuss neighborhood issues with them.
    If the Chateau Hornsby area – whatever it is called now – had a local councilor it would be much harder for them to avoid representing their neighbors at Council.

  3. A delegation from the Alice Springs Rural Area Association Inc spent quite a few afternoons some years ago with senior Council staff, including a Director, a Works Supervisor and a Leading Hand, developing a Rural Road Verge Policy for Council, which I understood Council to have adopted.
    This was in response to an earlier disaster on probably the exact same stretch of road verge.
    If anything, this approach will silt up culverts as the ground cover slows the water and holds the soil together. Any culverts containing silt can still be vacuumed.
    Throughout the Rural Road network we often see culverts actually blocked by Council activity, as jobs are left half finished.
    IMAGE Alice Springs News Online

  4. Alex Hope makes an excellent point in relation to wards. Instead of using council as platform for personal agendas and political ideals the collective elected members should be working for us and our street by street issues.

  5. The suggestion for wards is nothing new. It was suggested in 1987-88 when the rural area was incorporated within the Alice Springs Municipality but was firmly rejected by the NT Government and the town council.
    The idea was raised and debated again during the mid 1990s but again was firmly knocked on the head.
    Ironically, the town was divided into wards during the period of the Alice Springs Progress Association, which existed from 1947 to 1960.
    The ASPA was a lobby group organised by civil-minded residents of the town to raise issues of concern with the NT Administration.
    It was the precursor of local government in the Alice, and was replaced by the Alice Springs Town Management Board that in turn preceded the Alice Springs Town Council.
    The town’s population was much smaller, growing from about 2000 in the late 1940s to over 3000 by 1960; despite this small population, the town was divided into three wards plus the Farm Area along what is now Ragonesi Road.

  6. Council assists the spread of buffel. They seem to arrive after buffel has set seed and blast it all over the place with their ride on mowers. In the process all other vegetation is destroyed including juvenile trees and shrubs therby ensuring a clear field for buffel.


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