By Evelyn Leckie
MITCHELL Shire Council is responding to the upcoming fire season by clearing and cleaning up entrances to towns, particularly Pyalong and Kilmore.
Council voted in favour of spending $50,000 each year to maintain town entries and enter into an agreement with Regional Roads Victoria to undertake aesthetic works at the town entries of Kilmore and Pyalong.
Maintaining entrances to towns that sit outside the 60-kilometre zones usually fall to the responsibility of Regional Roads Victoria, however council voted to take over the task due to concern’s regarding the authority’s level of maintenance and fire safety.
Councillor David Atkinson said there were notable town entrances that needed attention.
“You drive into Kilmore in particular and you can see withered growth collecting at town entrances,” Cr Atkinson said.
“There’s an issue and we need to do something about it.”
Councillor David Lowe said he approved of the need to keep towns safe, but didn’t agree that the cost should fall on council’s shoulders.
Cr Atkinson acknowledged the $50,000 amount was a lot, but necessary.
“It’s not something we should have to pay for but we want to make sure our town is safe and we want to make sure it’s a nice town so people stop by, have a coffee and spend money in our towns,” Cr Atkinson said.
Work on Kilmore and Pyalong town entrances will be undertaken in the first instances and other town entries that require attention will be added to council’s maintenance program.
Council’s slashing program
Mitchell Shire Council has undertaken its largest slashing program this year.
Local Laws Officers will continue to monitor risks on public land – land not managed by council – and, if deemed a hazard, will write to the chief executive of the public authority.
If the hazard cannot be rectified, council will write a letter to the Chief Fire Officer and request an assessment of the public authority.
Council manages 1500 kilometres of roadside, and to prepare for the fire season, conducts slashing and spraying works on council roadsides.
Council has also reminded residents to keep their properties fire-ready, with urban properties required to keep grass under 20 centimetres at all times.
Rural properties need to maintain an adequate fire break.
Council’s fire prevention program, including Fire Prevention Notices, has started, with Highlands, Hilldene, Northwood, Pyalong, Seymour, Tallarook, Tooborac all inspected.
Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm said the council and community needed to work together to reduce bushfire risk.
“Council are leading the campaign on fire safety to ensure council land is managed and residents are organising their properties and fire-ready plans,” he said.
“Council will continue to advocate with external agencies and other road managers to ensure land and roadside management remains a key focus for roadside and community safety over the summer period.
“We are looking after our own backyard. This decision at council is about collaboration with other organisations and our residents.”