Locals were surely confused at the sight of a power pole standing tall, in the middle of the road, while local council and an electrical distribution company pointed their fingers at one another.
Locals were quick to share photos to social media of a power post, roughly a metre away from the kerb, in the middle of a Newcastle street.
The rogue power post could be seen on Foundry Street in Wickham, Newcastle.
“Only in Newcastle,” one person joked on Facebook, sharing a photo of the pole.
Some of the photos shared to social media show orange barriers erected around the post, while the barriers are nowhere to be seen in some photos.
The City of Newcastle offered their explanation of the lone pole on Facebook, saying the council would be “laughing too if it wasn’t so dangerous”.
“Someone vandalised our construction site in Wickham over the weekend,” the City of Newcastle wrote on Facebook.
“All signs and barriers were moved and our hazard lights around the pole on Foundry Street were smashed up. We’ve put the barriers back in place.”
However, weekdays radio host for 102.9, Tanya Wilks, said she was sent a photo of the offending pole by locals who claimed no barricades had been erected around the pole after council completed construction over the weekend.
The City of Newcastle’s own post featuring the pole provided no context as to why it was sitting in the middle of the road in the first place, which can be explained by a plan outlined by council in 2017.
The City of Newcastle proposed Foundry Street be expanded by five metres as part of the ‘Wickham Master Plan’.
The council then went ahead and expanded Foundry Street, the pole remaining where the old kerb used to be.
“We don't own the power poles,” City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath told 102.9 on Monday morning.
Mr Bath then went on to say following a fatality on the Ausgrid site in April, there were some “issues” with Ausgrid workers.
“They are prevented from undertaking any work on what we call ‘live-work’,” Mr Bath explained, which included relocating the power pole on Foundry Street.
“Our choices are we either do no work or we have to stage work, such as what you’re seeing in Foundry Street,” Mr Bath said.
Then, came a statement from Ausgrid, which said the electricity distribution company was “disappointed” by Mr Bath’s comments.
“This pole has not moved but as a result of works by Newcastle Council to move the kerb, the pole has now been left in the road, clearly in an unsafe location,” the Ausgrid statement said.
“It is disappointing to read comments by Council CEO Jeremy Bath who stated Council proceeded with this work to move the kerb knowing full well that the pole would be left in the roadway as a result.”
The company acknowledged their pause on live-work after a worker died in April, the first fatality in 20 years, according to the statement, which resulted in a “comprehensive” safety review.
“Councils across our network have respected the process Ausgrid has gone through and have worked closely and collaboratively with us following the fatality as we go through the process of ensuring our workers are safe undertaking works,” the statement said.
Ausgrid then went on the thank the “many other councils including Port Stephens and Maitland” for their cooperation –– but did not thank the City of Newcastle council.
“Given the Council has proceeded with the work leaving the pole in an unsafe location, Ausgrid will work as quickly as possible to schedule an outage to move the pole, our priority remains to ensure the safety of the community,” the statement said.
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