Ashburton District Council's road maintenance contractor, Fulton Hogan, gave councillors a briefing on the work being done on the district's roads and on possible approaches to further improve efficiencies and overall road quality.
Fulton Hogan deputy regional manager for Canterbury, Brett King, said its programme of work is based on a carefully-structured, long-term approach designed to meet the needs of the whole community.
Stuart Wilson, Chairman of Council's Service Delivery Committee said it was good for councillors to have a face to face with the contractor, with the session being an opportunity for elected members to raise issues and for the contractor to respond directly.
"Councillors don't usually have the chance to sit down with the contractors so it was ideal to hear a first-hand update from Fulton Hogan about their work programme," says Councillor Wilson.
"Next month we are bringing the management of our contractors in-house which I think is a good move as it will help enable Council staff to manage day to day contract arrangements and keep a closer eye on what is happening," he says.
"Our briefing with Fulton Hogan was very informative and enabled us discuss their programme of work in detail," said Mr Wilson," he says.
Mr King explained how Fulton Hogan has put on additional graders to the maintenance programme to address issues around the grading of unsealed roads.
"We currently have five graders working across the district. The work programme requires an ongoing balancing act between ensuring roads identified as a particular problem are prioritised and at the same time, maintaining other roads to the required standard," said Mr King.
Mr King suggested the Council may be able to improve the bang for buck it gets from its road maintenance programme, including more strategically managing the Council's gravel reserves to minimise the cost of transporting gravel around the district.
Mr Wilson says councillors are keen to see improvements in the overall standard of the district's unsealed roads and he believes things are going in a positive direction. Despite this he cautions residents to remain realistic about what can be achieved.
"Over half of our district's roading network is unsealed. We know that unsealed roads are a hot topic, especially at this time of year.
"Funding is always going to be a limiting factor in terms of the standard we can maintain our unsealed roads to so we need to be vigilant about investing in roading smartly and making sure our overall road network is efficient and effective.
"It is essential that we lock in approaches that deliver the best value for money for residents over the long term," said Mr Wilson.
Councillors will be looking closely at how best to structure its roading work programme as it prepares its next Long Term Plan over the coming months.
Group Manager Service Delivery