Clare County Council has submitted an application for almost €700,000 in funding for road surface repair works arising from the recent big freeze.
Once a bill has been finalised for the total cost of repairing the damage caused during the prolonged spell of artic-like weather, the local authority will be going cap-in-hand to the department a second time.
Fighting their case for additional funding, Deputy Pat Breen has pleaded with Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to issue a second tranche of funding “given the potentially huge bill” that the council is facing as “the full extent of the damage caused by the big freeze emerges”.
“Clare County Council is no different to any local authority throughout this country, they are cash-strapped and they cannot be expected to find this funding from existing resources.
“I spoke with the county manager and I understand that the council has already submitted an application for funding to the department in the region of €680,000. I also understand that they will be submitting a further funding application when they have finalised the bill for the total cost of repairing the damage caused during the bad weather,” Deputy Breen outlined.
He said that he had spoken on the matter with Transport Minister Noel Dempsey and “he is favourably disposed towards assisting local authorities”.
”It is my view and that of the local authority that they should be given the discretionary control to spend this second tranche of funding.
“I have been inundated with complaints from constituents throughout the county regarding the condition of the roads in their areas following the big freeze. Salting and gritting are essential in icy conditions but when the thaw sets in potholes appear.
“Many of our national, regional and local roads are now in a very bad state and it makes sense to allow Clare County Council to spend this money on those roads,” he added.
In a formal reply, Minister Dempsey pointed out that the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads was the statutory responsibility of each local authority and works on those roads was funded from local authorities’ own resources and were supplemented by state road grants paid by his department.
In this year’s estimates, provision for funding regional and local roads was €374.576 million and Minister Dempsey said he planned to announce the 2011 regional and local road grant allocations shortly.
Also in the Dáil, Deputy Joe Carey asked the minister about his plans for repairs in the county.
“I travelled throughout Clare over the weekend and there are potholes everywhere. The Hand Road from Ennis to Miltown Malbay is decimated. I want to know if the minister intends to provide exceptional funding this year, in line with what he did lat year, to allow county councils throughout the country to fix the roads.”
The minister said that he intends to announce the 2011 regional and local grant allocations shortly, while he said he would offer a large amount of discretion to the local authorities. “I know there are difficulties. I will make the allocation of funding clear to the local authorities shortly. I will also repeat what I said last year. That is, I will give them discretion to use their money initially on roads that need repair and make sure they are repaired as quickly as possible.”