Robe District Council discuss cemetery heritage wall repairs

The restoration of the heritage wall at the Robe Cemetery has been completed by contractors at HSV.

However, the work undertaken was not in accordance with the specification prepared by council’s heritage advisor and has been classed as substandard.

The heritage advisor has, on behalf of council, negotiated with HSV to return to the site to rectify the substandard work. 

Robe District Council CEO Roger Sweetman went into detail about the situation with councillors at the May meeting.

“They’ve been working on it for the last few days and they have repaired the majority of the work, although our heritage advisor hasn’t had a chance to inspect it,” he said. “I’m happy to answer any questions.”

Cr Lawrence Polomka felt the situation would be rectified to the council’s satisfaction.

“The CEO and I went down to the wall and we actually inspected it,” he said. “Now that it has been tidied up, I think it looks pretty good. There’s still some touching up that needs to be done, but they have resurrected it.”

Cr David Loxton queried: “Who was in charge of that exercise? Because someone didn’t keep their eye on the ball.”

Mr Sweetman: “Well it’s my responsibility as the chief executive.”

Cr Loxton: “That’s right, so, there must have been a progress report and inspection?”

Cr Loxton gave his opinion on what needed to be done to ensure that contractors complete work correctly in the future. 

“I think for future work, there’s obviously a lot more to be done to that wall for future councils, that is something that we’ve learnt here that needs to be looked at because they’re going to open inspect it and immediate it i presume.

“For future exercises and repairs it’s got to be done better than that because we don’t want them to keep coming back again with not what we asked for.”

Mr Sweetman: “In speaking to other people around, we perhaps need to be careful as to who we choose as contractors.”

Mayor Peter Riseley added: “The interesting part of this whole exercise was that we were lobbied by the Robe heritage national trust and they advised us that these people should be used.

“We had a good group of local volunteers under the leadership of Cr Polomka who were willing to do this task, but the Robe heritage national trust group refused to have anybody outside of their experts that they were recommending so that was a very interesting point having ended up with the wrong materials being used from the advice of the appointed people at the Robe national trust.”

Cr Polomka added: “And further to that Mr mayor, I’ll be more pedantic. They scared the local tradies off who are entitled to be working in this town and they were enjoying the funds available with such work and also they scared off the volunteers!

“Really that cost us $20,000 and more than a year and a half in time, so there’s still work there to be done and I’m quite happy to be doing that work if it comes to that.”

Cr Loxton debated that the situation wasn’t clear cut.

“Well like every story, there’s two sides and I’m not so sure if it’s right when it says parging. Well I would suggest parging wasn’t the word used in our recommendation, regardless of them doing it, it has to be exactly right.”

Mr Sweetman countered: “The recommendation was done by our heritage advisor, it was a nine-page document, and it was very detailed, the heritage advisor has the information that is contained in my report is his advice back to me via email.

“He’s used the word parging and I imagine he knows what he’s talking about.”

Cr Loxton: “Regardless of who is in the national trust or where we have a job description and it was not done correctly, and I’m not here to blame anyone in the local community for that, but we need to make sure that when we hand that to them that whoever is doing the repair work, needs to be watched carefully and instructions are clear.”

Council moved on with the meeting following Cr Loxton’s final comments.