Councillors warn 22% road funding hike not sufficient
East Cork’s TDs have been told by county councillors, in a meeting which excluded the media, they are unhappy with the roads funding allowance for this year, despite a 22% increase to Cork County Council.
Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration Dave Stanton (FG) and fellow TDs Kevin O’Keefe (FF) and Pat Buckley (SF) attended a meeting requested by frustrated councillors while Deputy Seán Sherlock (Lab) was absent.
The meeting was held ‘in camera’, however, and specifics from the talks were consequently unclear.
The state of the region’s roads dominates councillors’ monthly municipal district meetings, with deputations from desperate communities a regular feature. But councillors have to concede shortfalls in funding, manpower, and other resources as contributing to the volume of potholes and the disintegrating surfaces.
In January, Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley said county councillors, on the ground, suffer the ire of an angry public while the region’s Dáil representatives, she claimed, “can get away with telling everyone there is loads of money available for roads”.
Prior to the private meeting, Minister Stanton had publicly welcomed the 22% increase as “considerable progress”. He also claimed further large sums were also available for measures like drainage, local improvement schemes, and bridge rehabilitation.
Deputy Stanton noted Cork County Council would receive €44.09m, equal to over 10.5% of the €416.8m national allocation, while conceding it fell below allocations in 2007 and 2008.
In 2008, Cork County Council was allocated €64.99m for regional and local roads and contributed its own funding to make a total of €82.31m available for roads. Eight years later, in 2016, the total was merely €44.44m, with a central government allocation of €29.65m.
In the same timespan, NRA/TII grant aid for national roads in the county fell from €85.3m to €9.19m.
And funding, at the discretion of municipal district councils, has also dropped locally by €4m yearly.