Stirling rights of way sparks wards war

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A WARD war has erupted at City of Stirling council.

Inglewood ward councillors David Lagan and Bianca Sandri expressed frustration about the City’s rights of way (ROW) improvement works.

Council was supposed to vote whether to accept estimated cost rates for landowners’ contributions to the works as part of an annual review, but debate instead focused on the program model.

The program was introduced in 2015 and aims to upgrade laneways jointly funded by the affected landowner and City.

A report by City officers recommended approving estimated costs per linear metre of lot frontage to a ROW of $440 for construction, $117 for concurrent lighting installation and $156 for retrofit lighting installation.

The latter was a $7 decrease from last year’s approved rates while the other two increased by $91 and $10 respectively.

Cr Lagan said 53 per cent of the project expenditure had been spent on laneways in the Doubleview and Coastal wards.

He said there was a “massive difference” between the works in those wards, where he said costs could be shared between 20 to 30 landowners compared to Inglewood, which often only had a few affected property owners.

“There’s no need for it in Inglewood when you may only have two properties backing onto it,” he said.

“The issue is the model across the City is imposed on all wards.”

Infrastructure director Michael Littleton said if council rejected the cost rates, then the City would have to cover the shortfall.

Cr Bianca Sandri said either the City or ratepayers would need to pay the difference and agreed the model needed reviewing.

“Until the model is fixed, I won’t be supporting anything to do with rights of way,” she said.

According to Cr David Boothman, there had been many reviews of the ROW strategy in the past 10 to 15 years though he would support another.

He pointed out his Balga ward had no rights of way but ratepayers contributed.

Cr Adam Spagnolo said every council decision affected the entire City and Lawley ward Cr Joe Ferrante believed residents there were keen for works to progress.

Mayor Mark Irwin clarified the item for decision was on the annual costs review not the program model and Cr Karen Caddy concurred, saying it was just about “cost recovery”.

“We’re trying to make sure those who directly benefit pay, not making all ratepayers pay more,” she said.

The recommended costs were approved despite Cr Lagan, Sandri, Elizabeth Re and Karlo Perkov voting against.