Council chair hits out at gritting ‘failure’ in some parts of Mid Ulster

Gritting the roads
Gritting the roads

Super Council chair Cathal Mallaghan has hit out TransportNI for what he terms a “shocking response” to the gritting needs of some areas of Mid Ulster, during recent freezing conditions.

Questioning whether the government department’s “failure to provide adequate reserves of grit” in some areas was a result of “a catalogue of errors or systematic discrimination”, the Sinn Fein councillor is calling for an urgent meeting with divisional manager Conor Loughrey.

“Dwellers in Kildress, Pomeroy and Rock were trapped in their homes with little or no grit on rural roads to get themselves moving,” he told the Mail. “TransportNI had failed to provide adequate reserves of grit for our people - 5 Days after the grit ran out it was replenished.

“Meanwhile, other areas of our district, namely Sandholes and Coagh, had their roads adequately gritted with men and machines.”

But as well as querying this, Cllr Mallaghan said he would like to know why Sandholes is considered a ‘primary route’ and is gritted every day when it carries just 69% of the traffic required (1,500) according the department, compared with the 81% that goes through Rock - which he believes is now busier, but still labelled a ‘secondary route’.

Cllr Mallaghan has also challenged the actions of local manager, Robin Cuddy whom he said “didn’t know much about what was happening on the ground” when asked about gritting in rural areas.

Cllr Mallaghan said: “I am calling on TransportNI to administer equality to all citizens in Cookstown immediately, starting with regular gritting of the Tullyodonnell and Rockdale Roads.”

In response to Cllr Mallaghan’s concerns, a TransportNI spokesperson said: “Traffic volumes and route assessments for both Sandholes and Rock were provided to Cllr Mallaghan, [and] it was demonstrated that the figures warranted roads into the Sandholes being salted, but Rock did not qualify beyond the policy covering the gritted routes to schools.

“The figures cited by Cllr Mallagan are a misrepresentation of the data and do not reflect the true traffic volumes.”