Insurers likely to 'fight it out' over damage to Eden properties after roadworks

Bega Valley Shire Councillor Robyn Bain is concerned about the widespread damage to Eden residents properties.
Bega Valley Shire Councillor Robyn Bain is concerned about the widespread damage to Eden residents properties.

Two meetings have been held between Bega Valley Shire Council representatives and residents affected by damage to properties said to be caused by recent roadworks in Eden.

It is anticipated that legal processes will be initiated, with council acknowledging the incident and resulting damage, but not accepting liability.

Councillor Robyn Bain met with residents on two occasions in the past week.

"Clearly there is damage, this happened, it was an accident which is now down to a process of how it gets rectified," she said.

"Council contacted their insurers and were advised not to intimate liability - I can only imagine that the contractor's insurer and council's insurer will now fight it out.

"Originally when council thought only a couple of properties had been affected they were offering to clean the properties, but last week there were 23 in total, including four which have already been professionally cleaned."

A resident who attended the meeting on Wednesday, July 28, said a further 10 or so people had joined the group and a letterbox drop will be carried out to inform residents who may not yet be aware of damage to their roofs on Mitchell, Chandos, Bass and Calle Calle Streets.

"After further discussion and inspection of damage, I feel concerned at this point that the impact of the incident has been much wider spread than originally thought," Cr Bain said.

"There are quite a number of elderly people involved in all of this who can't and shouldn't get up on their roofs to take photos."

Residents not prepared to sign a waiver from council were asked to contact their own insurers to obtain quotes and letters to both council and the subcontractor stating they weren't covered.

"It's a really hard place for the residents to be in, I imagine some form of class or collective action will need to be conducted.

"If it was our home, it would be tough call, but I would like to get the stuff off our roof too," Cr Bain said.

Slater and Gordon lawyers have advised the group there needs to be in excess of $250,000 worth of damage to proceed with a class action.

"We don't know the long-term effect of lime on [vehicle] duco, so I fully understand why they don't want to sign a waiver from council," Cr Bain said. "The residents don't want to sue, this is why we want insurers to handle the situation.

"Specifications Boral have sent to council regarding what's in the product used state there's silica in the product - this is not a new process, lime is put down on roads everywhere, it's licensed under the EPA.

"Why did it react the way it did in those three streets? We don't know.

"We have to get past the anger and find the best way to move forward and help these residents out."

Residents have notified SafeWork of the incident, who are conducting an investigation into why it wasn't reported when it occurred.