Councillor questions ‘imbalance’ between roads in Coagh

Moss Road, Coagh which was recently resurfaced.
Moss Road, Coagh which was recently resurfaced.

Sinn Fein Councillor for Mid-Ulster Gavin Bell has expressed his concern and confusion over an imbalance between resurfacing of roads within the Coagh area.

While commending Road Service for the work they have carried out on Main Street in Coagh recently, Cllr Bell raised concerns that other roads in the Coagh area have not received the same “attention, workmanship nor public spend.”

A spokesperson for the Department said they have fully explained their reasons to Cllr Bell, and deny underspending in the Loughshore area.

Speaking to the MAIL, Cllr Bell said: “I‘ve been corresponding on a weekly basis seeking parity of esteem in relation to both Battery and Moss Roads. While Coagh Main Street received top treatment and finished to a very high standard, other roads in and about the Loughshore are playing second fiddle. I find this unacceptable. Our programme for government is and should be equality driven.

“There has recently been resurfacing on Coagh Main Street, Coagh to Moneymore and Ballymoyle Roads. All have been given a generous layer of bitumen... t he same has not been demonstrated on the Battery or Moss Roads. These two roads have been given a quick run of loose chips, yet have both been in need of proper tarmac/bitumen for many years now. It’s very alarming that roads leading into and out of Coagh Village are also in need of urgent work, in particular the Littlebridge to Coagh and Coagh to Ballinderry Bridge Roads.”

Cllr Bell added that he has questioned the reasoning behind the different approach to the roads in Coagh and “the logic does not appear to be stacking up”.

“I’ve also been sited a lack of ‘money in the pot’, as an attempt to cover over the cracks. This is a hard pill to swallow given the department in question have trouble spending all their allocated budget and hand money back to treasury.

“Local Roads Service Section Engineers in Cookstown have openly admitted to a severe under spend within the Loughshore area. Perhaps it’s now time we see a proper channeling of public spend towards areas in greater need and the abolishment of public service duplication.”

A DRD spokesperson said they have corresponded with Cllr Bell ‘at length’ and explained their reasons ‘fully’.

In a statement to the MAIL they said: “The Department has corresponded at length with Councillor Bell and has fully explained the engineering reasons for the surfacing treatments at Moss Road.

“The unrealistic expectation that the recently surfaced dressed Moss Road and Battery Road should be resurfaced simply because the finished surface was not as preferable as a bitmac surface was unreasonable and would not represent a good use of public money.

“Over the last four years TransportNI had surface dressed around 262km of road compared to 75km of resurfacing. The choice of treatment was based wholly on engineering and economic decisions.

“The suggestion by Councillor Bell that the volume of traffic on Battery Road was higher than Coagh Main Street is inaccurate compared to surveyed figures held by the Department. The Department denies ever having suggested any under spend in the Loughshore area as suggested by Cllr Bell. Over the last four years 32 resurfacing schemes totalling almost 18km had been undertaken within the greater Loughshore area. This represents approximately one quarter of all resurfacing work carried out within the Cookstown Council area. Regarding a street lighting duct issue on the footway in Tullyhogue, this was rectified at the time of construction and involved resurfacing a short length of the footway”.