Council Staffing Cuts hampering Flood Relief efforts – Stanley
Sinn Féin TD and Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has criticised the Government for its long and short term planning failures in relation to the flood crisis, saying that a great deal of damage could have been prevented had the Government not sought to indiscriminately slash public budgets.
Deputy Stanley said that National and Local plans need to be put in place to deal with flooding. He also asked why the Government have not declared a National Emergency and appealed to the EU for assistance from the Solidarity Fund.
The Laois Offaly said:
“In some local authorities, the number of outdoor staff has been slashed by up to 30%. This has had a serious debilitating effect on the capacity of councils to affect repairs and flood prevention measures such as basic maintenance work like clearing culverts. This is no criticism of the frontline staff who are at the pin of their collar these past few weeks, saving homes and properties. Some of the fault for this lack of funding lies squarely at the feet of Government. Short-sighted austerity has come back to haunt us once more.
“Serious flooding has occurred in areas such as Shanahoe, Clonterry and Mountmellick. A submission is with the Department of Public Expenditure and the OPW to raise and strengthen the roads in both these locations where homes have been cut off.
“In the case of Portarlington, Laois County Council wanted to carry out dredging work on the River Barrow in the Portarlington area to alleviate the flooding in Spa Street and Botley Lane and were prevented from doing so by the Inland Fisheries. Where there is a risk of flooding to people’s homes, environmental regulations alone cannot be allowed to stop the necessary work.
“It is beyond time for this Government to declare an Emergency and ask for assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund. National and Local plans need to be put in place to deal with the aftermath of flooding and flood prevention measures. The Government's response to-date has been slow and lacking in overall coordination.
“I have raised many of these matters in the Dáil and have made representations to the Minister to have funding approved for these projects.”