Penalties imposed on maintenance contractors not meeting the grade

The level of service required by the Hurunui District Council and the community has not always been met since the transition to new roading and grass-mowing maintenance contracts last year.

The Council has received a significant number of complaints regarding inadequate township and roadside mowing as well as concerns about the lack of grading being carried out on unsealed roads.

Roading Team Leader, Brian McManus said the situation is “disappointing and frustrating to Council staff”. Council officers viewed the present situation as completely unacceptable, and some quite serious actions to remedy the situation including imposing financial penalties have been taken.

Council officers have been working closely with the contractors (Delta and Downer, and Downer’s subcontractor GSL) to ensure the expected standards will be achieved and maintained.

Contracts Engineer, Brian Earnshaw - who oversees the township mowing contracts, said that the close over-seeing will continue. He said that this year was unusual with an extremely long and vigorous grass growing season which had presented the contractors with some unexpected mowing challenges, but he is confident it will not be long before the appearance of the Delta mowing areas is up to the required standard.

Earnshaw also pointed out that some of the criticisms of Delta were not warranted – that they are a result of changes within the contract. The major change in most townships was that mowing roadside verges outside dwellings had ceased. This was because the owners of these properties were already mowing their roadside frontages, so in effect, previous contractors were getting paid for work they didn’t do. Mowing has been continued outside empty sections.

Downer’s subcontractor, GSL (rural roadside mowing) has also not been delivering to the standards specified. GSL had struggled with the comparatively short lead in period from contract commencement and had been unable to get all their plant and personnel requirements in place on time. The exceptional growth this year also provided additional challenges.

McManus said that while he had some sympathy for GSL, a hard line, including financial penalties, had been taken with them in order raise the bar to meet contract compliance. He said that GSL had given assurances that they have taken steps to ensure that the unacceptable situation will not continue. Measures include the purchase of a new mower from Australia which will begin work next week starting in the Cheviot area.

McManus said that after a series of meetings, Downer had also assured their commitment to meet all contractual requirements and have confirmed that they will prioritise key areas, particularly in the north of the district,in order to bring the roading conditions back to a satisfactory standard.

He (McManus) said he understood the resourcing challenges Downer was facing, but was reassured that they have committed themselves to rectifying the situation. Downer have committed to contracting additional staff (locally sourced and based where possible), including an additional manager to oversee both maintenance and renewal works. Importantly, they have also committed to providing an additional grader to immediately address and rectify the current situation.

Council staff would like to assure ratepayers and residents that they are very aware of the non-performance issue and the dissatisfaction this has caused in the community. They too view the present situation as unacceptable and will be looking to ensure the actions taken rectify the situation immediately.

How do I report something I’m not happy about to the Council?

You can do this many ways.

The complaint will be referred to the appropriate person or team in Council to see if they can resolve the matter.

We will acknowledge written complaints within three working days and let you know who the complaint has been referred to.

If the response you receive from Council or the suggested solution does not meet with your expectations you can request that your complaint be referred to the Chief Executive or to the Mayor.

For further information contact:

Brian McManus
Roading Team Leader
314-0023 or 027 528-6971


Brian Earnshaw
Consents Engineer
314-0043 or 027 692-1639