WHILE three Clare county councillors have urged the local authority to start taking local roads in charge, the executive of the local authority insists it can’t be done, particularly given the terribly poor state of its finances.
Councillors Tom McNamara, Michael Hillery and Bill Chambers put forward a joint motion at this week’s meeting, calling on the council to take the roads in charge on a phased basis, from the existing local improvement scheme list and to allow people using the roads to apply to have them improved under the Community Involvement Scheme.
In a written report to the meeting, director of services for transportation, water services and the environment Anne Haugh, explained why the local authority opposed the proposal.
“In the present economic climate it would be inappropriate for Clare County Council to take such private roads into public charge in circumstances where adequate funding isn’t available to look after the requirements of the road network, which is already in public charge.
“If Local Improvement Scheme listed roads were taken into public charge, they would add to an already significant list of Community Involvement Scheme applicants.
“Given that the total funding available for Community Involvement Schemes is quite modest, in the region of €5m, the likelihood of achieving very much as regards remediation for Tertiary and LIS Roads is poor,” she outlined.
Ms Haugh caution that in addition, a taking in charge of such roads would constitute a liability of some significance from the council’s point of view given that many of them are in poor condition.
“Taking a charge of a road requires an engineer’s report confirming that such a road is completed to a satisfactory standard and fit for takeover. Such certification would not be possible or appropriate in relation to LIS list roads,” she said.
Councillor Tom McNamara said he was “disappointed with the reply and disappointed for the people on the list.”
He said that the people using the roads in question are “prepared to contribute and help out” with the repairs.
Councillor Michael Hillery said that in excess of 100 people have made applications for support over the past few years. “Something has to be done for these people, who are living in rural Ireland and in isolated areas.”
Senior engineer Tom Tiernan said that as things stand, there are already over 4,000km of non-national roads to look after, and not enough funding.
“It would be inappropriate to be taking on responsibility for private roads when we don’t have adequate funding for the roads we are responsible for,” he said.
While Councillor McNamara later suggested that five could be taken off the list, Mr Tiernan said that given the relatively small amount of funding nationally under the Community Involvement Scheme, the council would “be lucky to get one or two done”.