Korumburra elderly call time on brick pavement

Spokesman for a group of falls victims, Barry Ingwersen of Korumburra, whose partner Marion broke her wrist in the town’s main street, says the unevenness of the pavement is also a problem. m423517

Among the falls victims are Bev Bell, Cheryl Routley, Patsy Polson, Diane Dowdney and Marion Ingwersen. m433517

At meeting of falls victims in Korumburra this week, locals called on the shire not to wait to get rid of the town’s infamous brick pavers. m443517

BEV Bell of Korumburra fell outside the newsagents in April this year, broke her femur and spent three months in hospital.
She’s still using a walking frame to get around.
Patsy Polson of Loch has been clinically traumatised by a fall she had in the same location two months ago, and still suffers from debilitating pain in her legs.
Diane Dowdney of Korumburra fell over in Radovick Street, Korumburra, in June 2014, trying to get over the gutter, suffering a gash to her head, requiring four stitches, and resulting in a “colossal concussion”.
Marion Ingwersen fell over outside the Commonwealth Bank in March 2013, breaking her wrist, requiring surgery and a lengthy rehab time.
There are dozens of other horror stories.
Tripping on the bricks is the main problem and the main fear but the steep grade and general unevenness of the pavement are also hazards.
Among the other incidents already documented; an older lady tripped and fell on the brick pavers in Bridge Street, sitting up about 10mm, near the Commonwealth Bank carpark, and broke four teeth.
Another was taken away by ambulance when she fell beside the pedestrian crossing in Commercial Street.
The area outside the Bendigo Bank is another hot spot for falls, they say.
Disappointment was also expressed about the short shrift the falls’ victims have received from the South Gippsland Shire Council and its insurers.
But enough is enough.
They want action.
And on Monday this week they met with Strzelecki Ward Councillor Lorraine Brunt and members of the Korumburra Business Association to vent their concerns, which they did with commendable restraint given the terrible impact on their health and wellbeing.
Number one priority: The brick pavers have got to go!
Secondly, they want to hear from anyone who has had a fall in the main street of Korumburra, or in the back carpark, especially if it relates to the brick pavers.
At the meeting, organised in the Little Commercial Street carpark by the group’s spokesman, Barry Ingwersen, they received a very good hearing from Cr Brunt and from Noelene Cosson (president) and Shirley Aestia (secretary) of the Kormburra Business Association (KBA).
Cr Brunt promised she would take the group’s concerns to the council.
But she also made a very good point.
“Everyone talks about the bricks but the reality is that there are more reports of falls in Leongatha than there are in Korumburra. People simply have to make a report to get action,” Cr Brunt said.
The meeting heard testimony from those who’ve had recent falls.
One of the elderly ladies broke down in tears when she described how the incident happened, the pain she still suffers, all the treatment she has had to endure and how it has impacted her life.
She now has trouble getting out of bed in the morning and won’t walk on the brick pavers for fear of a repeat incident.
She’s not on her own in avoiding Korumburra’s main street, they said.
The KBA, according to Mrs Cosson, also wants action, but can see a way with the redevelopment Korumburra Commercial Streetscape, towards which the shire set $179,393 aside in its 2017-18 budget for detailed plans.
Unfortunately, the shire has scheduled the work for the 2020-21 financial year where it has nominated the indicative amount of $3,387,267.
“The pavers have been down for 30 years and one of the main problems is that they were set on sand and they’re moving which accounts for the on-going problems with their unevenness,” she said.
The discussion at the meeting then detailed some of the particular problem spots and where people had fallen as a result.
“It’s all coming to a head at the moment,” Mrs Cosson said.
“We’ve got the Korumburra centre reconstruction project and we don’t know what that will include at this stage and they’re also talking about needing a new community hub and library etc, if as looks like, the supermarket development goes ahead.
“We’ll need to work with the shire on what the priorities are and I’d say getting rid of the pavers would have to be right up there,” she said.
“They would be the number one priority, especially when you are talking about peoples’ health and welfare. They’re up there alright because they’re dangerous,” came the comment from the concerned residents.
Cr Brunt said she was pleased the residents had come forward to express their views because it certainly helped when the shire was looking at allocating funds.
But Barry Ingwersen, the spokesman for the group, said he wasn’t convinced the replacement of the pavers had to wait for the whole streetscape development program to be rolled out.
“It could be a part of that but it shouldn’t have to wait for that,” he said.
The Korumburra Business Association has offered to collect details of falls in the CBD and those with information or reports are invited to contact KBA Secretary Shirley Arestia on kba.secretary3950@gmail.com or phone 0438 551 207 or Barry Ingwersen 0407 301 912.
If there is an emergency call 000 or in the first instance, the incident should be reported to the South Gippsland Shire Council phone 5662 9200.