Council road project electricity bill charged to couple
RESIDENTS have been incorrectly charged hundreds of dollars for an electricity bill for a council road upgrade site office that's caused months of chaos for its neighbours.
Cheryl and Richard Perkins live across the road from Marchant Park, in Aspley, the location of the site office for Brisbane City Council's Murphy Rd and Ellison Rd roundabout upgrade.
On March 21, the couple were charged $259.63 for 'attendance to loss of supply' on their latest electricity bill, which inflated it to five times its normal amount.
Ms Perkins said the mix up would not have happened if the council had not officially given its address as "opposite" the Perkins' full address.
Mrs Perkins was told the mystery charge was because Energex had been called out to her address to fix a loss of power - but that never happened.
After she spent three days on the phone, first to her energy provider and then to Energex, she was finally told the bill was for the council's site office across the road.
"They kept saying Energex were here, Energex were here and I kept saying no they weren't," she said.
"I started to doubt myself. I started to think 'Did someone come?'"
She said the stress of dealing with the phantom charge was "upsetting" and made her feel like she was "going to have a stroke".
"They (the council) have never asked us to use our address as a point of access," she said.
"There was no consultation to even putting it (the site office) there in the first place, and how it would affect us and our livelihood."
The charge, which was taken off her bill after the mistake was revealed, came after months of delivery vans parking in and across their driveway and confused delivery drivers trying to leave construction materials at her house.
Her neighbours, Kevin Pan and Michael Callice, told Northside Chronicle the coming and goings of trucks made large banging sounds that woke them in the middle of the night and early morning.
Mrs Perkin said she wanted a formal written apology, adding that when she spoke to a senior bureaucrat about the electricity charge, he did not apologise for the mix up in person.
She said the site office should be moved.
A council spokeswoman said signs have also been installed in front of 433 Ellison Road, after concerns were raised about commercial vehicles mistakenly parking in Mrs Perkins' driveway.
Cr Fiona Hammond (Marchant) said she had met with Mrs Perkins at her home and the site office and spoken to her multiple times on the phone.
"It's distressing to get a large bill and I've certainly apologised to her for that," she said.
She added the council had already done work to reduce the affects of flashing lights on residents, and that her communication with the Perkins "will be ongoing".
Cr Hammond said the site office for the upgrade would remain at Marchant Park for the duration of the project, expected to be complete in early 2020.
"In relation to night works, the Projects Team has been working to reduce the amount of required night works, as they acknowledge how this can affect local residents," she said.
"In order to limit the amount of night works, the construction phase of the project will take a little longer than first estimated."
A council spokeswoman said the contractor, at the council's request, laid asphalt over the site office driveway to minimise dust and noise, increased water sprays to reduce airborne dust and reminded construction vehicles drivers to slow down on entry and exit.
"The site office location was chosen due to its limited impact on vegetation, park users, the cricket club and its proximity to the project site area," she said.
"Following a misunderstanding by Energex, a senior Council representative personally phoned Mrs Perkins on 9 April to apologise and offer to rectify the incorrect billing but was advised the matter already had been resolved," she said.
Mrs Perkins said the council lied about her receiving and apology from the council officer: "At no point have I had any apology."
Opposition Infrastructure spokesman Steve Griffiths it was "appalling" Mrs Perkins had been charged and said that she deserved a formal written apology.
He said residents had told him there was a lack of consultation and "poor implementation" of the project.
"I understand, from speaking to the residents, they didn't know a lot about the project and they're having difficulty dealing with council over the project and they're questioning it's value for money and even whether it's needed," he said.