East Cork Councillors Say Increased Roads Budget Not Enough

By Seamus Whelehan

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East Cork Councillors have praised a 22% increase in the county’s 2018 roads budget but say it’s not enough to prevent further decay.
On Monday 29 January Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross announced an additional €417million capital investment in the country’s regional and local road network.
€44million is to be provided to Cork County Council, to improve its 12,500km of roads.
In a behind closed doors meeting on Monday with Dáil TDs, Fianna Fail’s Kevin O’Keeffe, Sinn Féin’s Pat Buckley, and Junior Minister of State Deputy David Stanton, Cllrs spent almost two hours discussing the condition of East Cork’s roads.
Last week the county’s councillors described the region’s roads as “third world conditions” with some potholes “big enough to calve an elephant in.”
One council official at Monday’s meeting claimed an additional €3 million is required annually to bring East Cork’s roads up to an acceptable standard.
The council are at present spending €35million of a €123 million roads budget annually on maintenance and rehabilitation works to almost 20,000 bridges located along the regional and local network.
According to the Government’s own strategic framework for investment in Land Transport report 2015, €580 million is required to keep the road network in its present condition.
In 2015 the government’s paper ‘building on recovery’ pledged an investment of €622 million in our roads in 2017, increasing to €1082million by 2022, last year however €324million was allocated to our local roads.
Sinn Fein deputy Pat Buckley said a fairer funding deal from government was needed for the county’s roads.
Stating each local authority should have its roads budget index linked to its length of road.
“We are being left behind in rural. The majority of GDP is being spent in Dublin.”
East Cork Municipality are to hire 3 fulltime staff and a further 4 seasonal staff, leading to fears there may be no work for them to do without proper investment in equipment and resources.
However Junior Minister of state Deputy David Stanton said “You can pump a huge amount of money in, but the capacity may not be there to spend it. It’s not only staff it’s material, equipment and that sort of stuff.”
He said he expected a similar investment in our roads next year and will increase over a period of time.
Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey said “this year’s budget was €3.9million for East Cork. The increase in funding is welcome but it is a long way off pre-recession figures of €5.2million.”
Cllr Noel Collins said he was “disappointed” the meeting was held in committee, as community groups were anxious to put their appeals for government funding.
“We are in a state of crisis in the East Cork region, no social housing, a sticker plaster health system and broken down roads”, he said

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