Additional funding for local roads required – Reilly
Speaking today in the Seanad, Senator Kathryn Reilly has called on the Minister for Transport to allocate additional funding for Local Improvement Schemes, following calls from local Sinn Féin councillors.
Senator Reilly said:
“Local improvement schemes are the method people in rural areas use to get roads to places which are not serviced by existing county council roads.
“While I welcome that the scheme was reopened and that people living on these private roads and lanes now can have some recourse to assistance with funding, there does exist issues around the funding of the scheme. Demand for the scheme far outweighs supply and the pressures on the public roads funding allocation of local authorities has meant that some councils cannot use their funding for this purpose.
“It is necessary that something is done for the endless number of people who are waiting for the primary provision of a road to their dwelling house.
“As I said the Local Improvement Scheme may have been reopened but this does not mean additional Government funding, it just means the Council has leeway to use a percentage of its Budget to the works on non-public roads. But having the leeway to do this, and it being practical within the current budgetary constraints and demands on the public roads budget are 2 different things.
“The Local Improvement Scheme needs a special ring-fenced fund of its own, not scrapings from the Roads Budget. By suggesting that the Council can instead use a percentage of their budget for the scheme it is only paying lip service to rural areas- giving the Council permission to do the work but not the real financial backing or ability.
“I agree with the Minister when he has said previously that local authorities, with their community base and local knowledge are best placed to judge the priority of works on private roads. But I do not believe local authorities should make the either/or decision whether they want to operate the Local Improvement Scheme in their area or would prefer to put their resources into regional and local public roads. Specific ring fenced extra funding is exactly what we need. Councillors would rather if it came by way of additional standard roads funding that we could then decide in the council chamber to allocate to LIS.”