Newcastle Liberal councillor Brad Luke has joined a chorus of disapproval over City of Newcastle's decision to leave a power pole in the middle of a Wickham street.
Council chief executive officer Jeremy Bath has defended the decision to complete road works before the pole was moved as the "only way to get Ausgrid to temporarily lift their ban" on working on live power lines.
Ausgrid and the state's two other energy providers have banned work on live lines after a young worker died in Sydney in April.
Electrical Trades Union boss Justin Page slammed the council on Tuesday for what he regarded as a "cheap, insensitive stunt" while the union and companies were reviewing safety.
Cr Luke said the council's conduct was unacceptable.
"As an apprentice electrician I was almost killed in an accident working near live wires when I was 20 years old," he told the Newcastle Herald.
"Given Ausgrid and the union's comments, I find the claim by Jeremy that he did this on purpose to make Ausgrid rush a safety review following a death one of the most dreadful management decisions I have ever seen.
"Ensuring your employees can return to their loved ones after work must always be the top priority of any manager."
Ausgrid said on Wednesday that moving the pole required "significant changes" to the local power network. The pole would need to be placed underground or connected to poles nearby.
A spokesperson said Ausgrid was working with the council's contractors to plan how and when the pole could be removed. It would notify residents and businesses of the necessary power outage as soon as possible.
SafeWork NSW said an inspector had visited the site and "confirmed that the pole is located wholly on a public roadway and therefore falls outside of SafeWork NSW jurisdiction".
"SafeWork understands that Newcastle council are liaising with Ausgrid and the RMS to ensure the pole is relocated as soon as possible and that interim road user controls are in place," a spokesperson said.
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