Frustrations expressed over decade long campaign to seal Hillside Road, Strathalbyn

Through Road: Hillside Road runs between Callington and Langhorne Creek roads and is used by residents, through traffic and trucks from Garwood Earthmovers.
Through Road: Hillside Road runs between Callington and Langhorne Creek roads and is used by residents, through traffic and trucks from Garwood Earthmovers.

The operator of a quarry in Strathalbyn has made his frustration clear, following non-action concerning the sealing of a road which was earmarked for upgrade over a decade ago.

Mr David Garwood of Garwood Earthmovers, presented a deputation and petition with five other signatories to Alexandrina councillors at their September meeting and claimed that over the last 10 years, he and the residents of Hillside Road had been "ignored, delayed, misled and lied to."

Citing negotiations with council staff over 10 years prior, Mr Garwood said his business spent 12 months in negotiation with all necessary departments, including council, when applying for a new mining lease.

"During this process, it was agreed that council would seal Hillside Road to just past our quarry gate," he said.

"Not just for Garwood Earthmovers, but for the residents on the road. It is a through road that would service the community and is used by a lot of through traffic.

"For the past 10 years I've been pursuing this, only to be told by council that there is no record of this."

Alexandrina Council General Manager Environment, Simon Grenfell said there was evidence of council negotiation with Mr Garwood, and that the sealing of Hillside Road had been discussed in 2007.

"We [council] had discussions and there were negotiations between council staff and elected members around the time of the development of the quarry, to the point that in 2007, there was a council agenda item on the issue," said Mr Grenfell.

This item which was put before elected members on June 4, 2007, included a resolution that "council accept an agreement with Garwood Earthmovers for them to provide and deliver road base material to upgrade the section of Hillside Road from Callington Road to approximately 100 metres past the quarry site entrance and that Council will construct and seal this road in year 2008/09."

However, this resolution was not supported, with elected members instead preferring to pass a resolution that development of the quarry site "is not supported by council."

A commitment was however made by council to "work closely with the Garwood family with a view to understanding clearly their future aspirations with respect to the ongoing viability of their quarry business, in consultation with the community."

According to council, the sealing of the relevant portion of Hillside Road would cost about $940,000 and a full survey and design would be required before any budget is allocated.

During his deputation to council in September 2019, Mr Garwood said he estimated it could be done privately for $600,000.

Councillors followed in the footsteps of their 2007 counterparts and resolved unanimously not to act further on the sealing of the road, instead opting to commit to traffic measurement during the road's busiest period, over the upcoming summer season.

Mr Grenfell said that currently the unsealed road was rated as "very good" and that unless there was a drastic increase in usage, council would "notice any maintenance needs [as] we have inspectors out there monitoring our roads regularly."

Councillor Farrier said he believed there was currently minimal traffic on the road and that it would be "silly to spend that sort of money for the minimal traffic movements at this stage."

It was recognised by Councillor Lewis that council had a history of making commitments in regard to the sealing of the road.

"There is a long history of nothing happening," she said.