OUR SAY: This isn’t the last we’ll hear about footpaths before September

IT looks like footpaths may just be a point of contention at the September council elections. 

Whether they are a fault of the current council, of course, comes down to interpretation.

First of all, this is what we’re getting: the council has set aside $320,000 for the 2017-18 financial year, followed by $350,000 annually for the next three years.

What that money will be spent on, however, won’t be revealed until August once council staff have been able to assess public requests against the existing works program and sort out priorities.

In real terms, we do know the $1 million extra allocated for the four-year period will fund an extra seven to 10 blocks of footpaths. 

What we don’t know is whether this will be the final amount – councillors have raised the idea of borrowing money to do more, and the budget is currently at a $1.9 million surplus. 

The mayor has called footpaths a hot topic and the public comments were being taken seriously. 

But this is not a new issue, and certainly not isolated to the current council term – this newspaper has been covering footpath surface complaints for years, although more so since the yellow lines started growing in frequency.

Two or three councillors in particular have been raising concerns about footpaths long before this funding was allocated.

But past policy, which did not require developers to install footpaths in their subdivisions, also played a part. 

It was also pointed out at Tuesday night’s meeting that not everything can be covered at once.

The priority for the past two years, and the last road-building season in particular, has been roads – again an urgent problem spanning multiple council terms.

Councillors on Tuesday were of two schools of thought – either that not enough was being spent on footpaths, or that the council had listened and was acting the best it could.

There were also accusations made across the chamber that those in the first school had September in mind, which were promptly refuted. 

We’re hearing that election tickets without serving councillors may be prioritising footpaths in their campaigns, but until election mode hits, the extra funds are certainly welcome, and a huge improvement on the amounts forecast this time last year.

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