SHOALHAVEN City Council general manager Russ Pigg has expressed his disappointment at the way council staff have been coming under public attacks in recent weeks.
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Several councillors, most notably former mayor Greg Watson, have been using the media in recent weeks to express concerns with the way council staff members have been doing their work.

While Mr Pigg admitted council’s staff members were far from perfect, he fired a thinly-veiled shot at repeated criticism from councillors.

“Councillors need to consider whether public criticism, or even threats of action, is the best way to contribute to changes,” Mr Pigg said.

“Or would it be better to sit down with myself and the staff members in question, discuss issues and any perceived problems, and set up programs for improvement?

“Arguably, the second way is more effective in my opinion,” Mr Pigg said.

He said criticism was expected at times because, “There’s always room for improvement, sometimes things go wrong on jobs – we all know that.”

However, he questioned whether council needed to set up other ways in which councillors could communicate with staff and raise any concerns.

Much of the recent criticism had centred on poor quality roads and roadwork, and Mr Pigg said staff presented a report to councillors last year saying there were difficulties coming up, simply because 2011 was such a wet year.

“Wet weather is the worst enemy of roads,” Mr Pigg said.

Wet seasons meant a greater infiltration of water into the road base, eroding it and breaking up the road surface under the weight of passing traffic.

Ideally, bitumen roads were resealed every eight to 10 years to keep them watertight, but “We don’t have the funds to reseal roads on anything like that schedule,” Mr Pigg revealed.

With wet weather continuing, “There are some really tough decisions for councillors to make come budget time about allocating resources, and prioritising roads issues,” Mr Pigg said.

“They’re the conversations we need to have with councillors as part of the next budget.”

Mr Pigg conceded there were some works that has not met expectations, experiencing problems soon after completion, and said those problems were being investigated to see what went wrong, reverse the problems, and ensure they were not repeated.

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