Cr Philip Penfold wants council to take over main road median strip maintenance

IN THE MIDDLE: Maitland councillor Philip Penfold pictured with an overgrown median strip on the New England Highway at East Maitland.
IN THE MIDDLE: Maitland councillor Philip Penfold pictured with an overgrown median strip on the New England Highway at East Maitland.

Maitland City Council should take over the mowing and maintenance of main road median strips from the Roads and Maritime Service, according to mayoral hopeful Cr Philip Penfold.

Cr Penfold said the RMS allocation to mow and maintain the highway median strips was insufficient and the job should be taken out of the hands of the state and put under the control of council.

“In the coming term of council I will move for council to take on the mowing and maintenance in return for compensation from the RMS,” Cr Penfold said.

He said council needs more resources allocated to mowing irrespective of his latest proposal.

“This issue has existed for many years, under the previous ALP government and under the current Coalition government,” Cr Penfold said.

Cr Penfold first raised his concerns about the city’s main road weed problem in November, 2014. At that time he said there were many median strips and road sides across the city that were strewn with litter and overgrown.

Council raised the issue of the need for improvement with the then Roads Minister Duncan Gay when a community cabinet was held in the city in 2014.

“Council thought highly enough of the issue to make it one of five points to raise with the minister,” he said.

Cr Penfold said median strips in East Maitland were most in need of maintenance.

An RMS spokesperson said mowing the median strips is based on seasonal growth rates and the timing of maintenance work varies.

“The council is free to carry out additional mowing maintenance work at their cost,” the spokesperson said.

“The council would need to comply with certain RMS requirements such as road occupancy licences and also have a formal agreement with RMS.”

Cr Penfold said that almost three years on, the state of median strips and roundabouts located on the city’s main roads does not present Maitland in a good light. “Particularly at the city gateways where roundabouts and median strips are overgrown,” he said. Asked if he had the support of the current council on his proposal, Cr Penfold said he did not. “I am hopeful the new crop of councillors will agree after the election,” he said.