Roads divide councillors: Duffy threatens to walk out of council meeting

COUNCILLOR Kevin Duffy almost suspended Tuesday night’s meeting when he threatened to walk out during a clash with mayor John Davis over the city’s roads.

Cr Duffy stood to attack councillor Russell Turner, who had accused Cr Duffy of using roads as a vote-grabbing exercise in the Central Western Daily the week before.

“Yet he was complaining about potholes on Ophir Road and he ran on a platform of fixing roads and he’s having a go at me,” Cr Duffy said.

Cr Duffy said most of the $15.2 million in roads funding was earmarked for major projects, including Forest Road and Clergate Road, and questioned what would be left for maintenance.

But Cr Davis did not allow him to proceed further.

“It just shows you can’t take it,” he said.

“You’ve been very outspoken, which you’re entitled to do, but the fact is this is the program and I won’t allow it to be sniggered at.

“It’s a 12-month program and it’s going to be very hard to get through that much work.” 

Cr Duffy interrupted Cr Davis’ comments on several occasions, threatening to leave the chamber.

The move would have left the council without a quorum, with councillors Ron Gander and Neil Jones absent due to sickness and councillors Jeff Whitton, Glenn Taylor and Reg Kidd also apologies, but Cr Duffy decided to remain in the chamber.

The conflict occurred as Orange City Council prepares for the coming road-building season in November.

Cr Taylor said after the meeting the council would employee four additional labourers to work with the existing road crews and concrete and drainage teams, taking staff numbers to 26, and it was committed to a major contribution to the road network.

“We’ve got a record budget and the long list of projects will be pushing the limits of our current staff numbers, so we’re putting on extra staff in a temporary capacity for six months,” he said.

“It’s another way we’re making sure we take full advantage of the coming drier weather.”

With record rain in recent months creating additional work, Cr Davis said the engineering and design stages for the major projects were under way. 

“We’re gearing up to put those projects out to tender,” he said.

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