Resident of 25 years rages at local council over 'dangerous' street issue

Simon Barlow, from Albury in NSW, said his 'old street' is lined with plane and pear trees that are both messy and 'dangerous'.

Leaves are seen clogging Simon Barlow's Albury street after heavy rainfall.
A NSW man, from Albury, has blasted his local council for failing to help clear leaves from his street, which he says fall in unrelenting quantities every week and poses a safety hazard. Source: Supplied

A fed-up Aussie is calling for immediate council intervention to address what he says is a "dangerous" leaf problem wreaking havoc along his suburban street. He reports the gutters are frequently clogging and flooding, and he needs to fill "four 240 litre green bins every weekend" with the debris.

The NSW man said not only do leaves fall in such unrelenting quantities that's it's difficult to maintain order along the road and footpath, but they also pose a significant health and safety risk, particularly when it comes to the elderly and those with mobility issues.

Simon Barlow, from the border town of Albury in the state's south, said his "old street" is lined with plane and pear trees that are, he argues, lovely to look at but extremely messy and disruptive. He said particularly in autumn, his street becomes so inundated with leaves it causes the area to flood, and "you can't actually get out to your car without jumping at least a metre right off of the gutter".

Leaves are seen clogging Simon Barlow's Albury street after heavy rainfall.
Simon Barlow said if council would assist in helping to clear the leaves from the pear and plane trees, his street wouldn't flood anywhere nearly as often. Source: Supplied

"I've gone ass-over a couple of times trying to make the jump, to be honest," Barlow told Yahoo News Australia. "We've got either concrete blocks that go over the gutter for the driveways or big metal sheets, and we've got plane trees at the end of the street that drop those leaves that don't break down very easily. Then we've got pear trees that are also quite large.

"So what happens is, in autumn, the leaves fall and because the gutters aren't open, because you've got all these obstacles over the gutter, they just block up and the water just backs up so quickly."

Barlow said on his street, there's only one major drain at either end, meaning "every driveway's virtually got a blockage". "I quite often have to walk into the end of the street, which is four houses down with a rake or something," he said. "And I've got to constantly keep raking the leaves off the grates or the water runs away."

Having repeatedly raised the issue with Albury City council — which is realistically "only unmanageable for six weeks of the year" — Barlow said "they never, or very rarely ever respond".

"I can fill four 240 litre green waste bins every weekend," he said, adding that street sweepers and maintenance officers do attend the street about one per month, though he said that isn't anywhere enough to keep things in order.

"If we get 50 to 70ml of rain in a hit, the two drains just block and we could actually be underwater by two or three feet, and then it floods the whole street. So we've had numerous times where we've had the street completely flooded," he said.

"It's gotten worse in the last 10 years and I've been in this house for 25."

Barlow said a better tree management plan from council would solve the issue relatively quickly if staff were able to remove the blockages beneath the metal ramps. He says he's seen no evidence they ever have, as "you can't just put a blower over the drain when it's really packed in".

"My biggest issue with is just the lack of connectivity between council and responding," he said. "An elderly person trying to get through this mess, or even me — and I'm only in my mid 50s — but if I slipped, I could break a hip, I could break a leg and arm and that could be debilitating."

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Albury City council for comment with regard to Barlow's claims.

According to data from community problem-solving app Snap Send Solve, the platform recorded a 97.5 per cent surge in reports of water and sewer issues earlier this month in the wake of the heavy rainfall that lashed the east coast in June.

Shane Bates, Team leader Streetscapes and Gardens said Albury City Council has a proactive street cleaning program to maintain "our extensive 555km road network".

"Seasonal factors, availability of resources, and reactive requests including road accidents and material spills may impact the frequency of cleaning and our ability to effectively deliver the program," he told Yahoo News Australia

"Our people endeavour to maintain as many streets as possible to ensure we mitigate risk and maintain the amenity of the city. We appreciate the assistance and patience of our community during these peak periods. Council receives more than 3,000 Snap Send Solve requests each year, and we’re currently investigating how we can more effectively close the loop with the community in a timely way."

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