‘Footpath junket’ draws criticism
Wednesday, 17th July, 2013
By Erica Visser
An art gallery owner has criticised City Council for spending almost $20,000 on a footpath specialist who got his facts wrong.
City Council and the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) went halves in a $38,000 bill for Accessible Public Domain’s John Evernden.
According to the company’s website, it aims to “help create a public domain that considers all aspects of equitable and dignified access for people of all ages and abilities”.
Mr Evernden and wife Kathy walked the city’s streets for a month in April and Mr Evernden has now presented Council with a report on how access for all residents and tourists could be improved.
The report claimed that the ‘Big Picture’ at the Silver City Mint and Arts Centre was “inaccessible” as it used steps, however owner Chris Anderson said that the gallery had, in fact, two disabled entrances.
“I’m concerned that this Mr Evernden never had the decency to introduce himself to myself or my wife or the staff,” he said.
“He obviously didn’t notice the sign in the foyer at the front of the building stating there was wheelchair access.
“There is not one, but two wheelchair ramps connected to the building which have both been approved by the Council.
“The Council should get their facts right before putting anything to print.”
Mr Anderson said that the mindless error highlighted the public’s concerns over the payment for the specialist when the Council was facing such dire economic times.
He said that it was concerning that the money was being spent on reports such as this when business rates had jumped this financial year.
“We’ve got to be concerned about the expenditure of this sum of money to bring a so-called expert into the town to walk the streets for a month looking at cracks in footpaths,” Mr Anderson said.
“Meanwhile, they’ve hit the businesses in the community with a rate rise of 20 per cent.
“I think it’s a considerable amount of money considering the Council have stated that they’re going to look at addressing the financial problems that they’ve got and then this sort of money is spent.
“I hope he enjoyed his $38,000 rate-payer funded holiday.”
The plan is expected to be adopted at Council’s monthly meeting next week and put on public display for the following weeks.