DUP councillors in Mid Ulster have painted a ‘bleak picture’ of the impact of budget cuts on Mid Ulster’s roads and amenities.
Councillors from the party met with the DRD Roads Manager over “the severe lack of service delivery” in relation to grass cutting, weed spraying, gully cleaning, street lighting and roads maintenance.
Pot holes in roads with less that 500 vehicles per day will not be fixed - DUP councillors
“While the meeting was very courteous unfortunately the outcome was extremely bleak,” said Cllr. McLean
“The divisional Manager advised that there is a serious shortfall in funding and that the directive from the DRD Roads minister was that only emergency repairs were to be carried out.
“The DRD Manager advised the meeting that running costs and maintenance for street lighting costs £13 million and therefore a total budget of £12.8 million was not sufficient to allow then to carry out any maintenance.”
According ot the DUP councillors, the divisional manager advised on each of the following elements.
“Grass cutting which normally would have commenced by now will only commence mid June; however it will only be cut once during the entire season instead of the five times a year for urban areas and twice in rural areas.
“Gully emptying was usually carried out by external contractors; however no external contractors are to be used because of the shortfall in budget. Gullies will only be emptied or cleaned in known hotspots or if flooding occurs.
“There will be no general weed spraying carried out as again this element of works was carried out by external contractors.
“Street lighting will again be in crisis as there are only two in-house electricians and no money for external contractors.
The DUP councillors continued: “Traditionally 25% of all roads maintenance works was carried out by internal labour and 75% by external contractors. Many of these contractors tendered for these works over a three year period and now their been told that there is no work available.
“Pot holes in roads with less that 500 vehicles per day will not be fixed, however even then the pot-holes will need to be 50mm deep on roads with more than 500 cars per day, before even these will be attended too.”
Cllr Mclean added:“The DUP are now writing to the minister and to the assembly to highlight their concerns.”
In response, the DRD quoted the Minister Danny Kennedy who outlined cuts of £60 million to his budget.
Mr Kennedy said the total shortfall in the Budget for TransportNI is some £38.5million.
“After taking into account inescapable costs totalling almost £84 million, including £40 million for PPP commitments, together with staff costs of some £61 million, TransportNI has only £13m to cover all remaining activities.
“These include street lighting and traffic signal energy, funding for external contractors including those who normally repair traffic signals and street lights, supplies including patching materials and salt, fleet maintenance and fuel. Indeed the £13 million will only cover the street lighting and traffic signal energy costs and inspections.
“As a result, I would have been unable to carry out routine maintenance work and street lighting repairs in 2015-16.
“The stopping of these activities is likely to have serious public safety implications. Around 500 industrial staff employed by my Department would be confined to depots with no work due to the budget position. This situation would be totally unacceptable.
“I am, therefore, proposing to allow my industrial staff to provide a skeleton routine maintenance service, until the outcome of June monitoring is known. Let me make it clear that this will be done at risk and I will be keeping the position under careful review.”