Roads in Mid Ulster costing an average of £23.5m a year

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Over the last three years the sum spent on roads in both Cookstown and Magherafelt was £10m less than the outlay for roads in the Dungannon district.

Through an FOI to the Department of Regional Development (DRD), this newspaper has discovered the cost of road repairs, updates and network development in all three council areas between 2010-11 and the last year available, 2012-13.

The total money used in the three areas, soon to be Mid Ulster District Council, amounted to almost £71m with Dungannon taking the lion’s share of the pot with an outlay of almost £40m.

With an expenditure of almost £16m in Magherafelt District, Cookstown’s roads were the least expensive with £15.2m of DRD funds used to keep them in order.

In an effort to explain the differences in investment between Dungannon and Mid Ulster’s two other council areas, A spokesperson for DRD said: “TransportNI does not routinely apportion its total budget for capital and maintenance expenditure equally across all district council areas.

“Major road improvements are prioritised on a country-wide basis - this takes account of a broad range of criteria, such as strategic planning policy, traffic flows, number of accidents, potential travel save times, environmental impact and value for money.

“Whilst the actual spend on a major works scheme may be within one council area, the benefits schemes are not.”

All three districts together, cost just less than 10 per cent of the total budget for Northern Ireland roads between 2010-2013.

Of the £710.8m shelled out by DRD, £70.7m of this went on roads in Mid Ulster.

And according to the DVLA in Swansea, which now has responsibility for collecting Northern Ireland’s road tax, the total gathered over the last three financial years doesn’t even cover the cost of repairs and upgrades to our roads.

They could not provide a breakdown per council district, or how much was taken for cars, bikes or lorries, but they did reveal that £521,711,248 has been paid in road tax by people in Northern Ireland since 2011-12, almost £1.9m less than was actually spent on the upkeep of roads.