Anger as Fine Gael members defend reduced roads funding

South Tipperary roads are deteriorating at a tremendous rate with councillors admitting that the County Council was ‘losing the battle” to maintain the road infrastructure on a decreased funding from last year.

Councillors expressed their outrage at the level of funding, demanding “more not less” than what was provided in 2012.

Minister Alan Kelly was criticised for the manner he was handling information released about the funding while Fine Gael members who tried to defend the reduced 2013 allocation was criticised by Independent councillor Denis Leahy.

Two former County Council chairmen and FG members, Michael Fitzgerald, who said the council had to ‘cuts its cloth to measure’, and Liam Ahearne, who suggested that because road materials were cheaper more work could be done with less money, were criticised by Cllr. Denis Leahy.

“We need more money not less. How anybody can stand up here and welcome this allocation is beyond me,” said Cllr. Leahy.

He described the comments made by the Fine Gael members as an insult to the officials who had to work on a reduced budget from last year while the roads were in such an awful condition.

Cllr. Richie Molloy said Minister Kelly had made ‘two or three announcements’ on funding but it was very hard to welcome what amounted to reduced funding for the roads of South Tipperary.

“We have to tell him that what we have is far too little to work with,” said Cllr. Molloy as the €1m reduction on road allocation from last year was discussed by members at their meeting on Monday.

“Talking about potholes won’t fill any one of them” Cllr. Joe Donovan told his colleagues

“Maybe if the proper stuff was put in and if the weather dried out you would have some chance” said Cllr. Donovan who told officials that motorists were angry over the damage being caused to their cars and the repair and NCT bills they were faced with as a result of the condition of the roads.

Cllr. Eddie O’Meara said the council was ‘losing the battle’ on the roads and potholes were getting worse.

It was not right to see money being spent on main roads and the rural roads that were in a terrible condition were not being looked after with an emergency job.

He proposed that the work be sub-contracted out because as it stood people could not travel some roads and something had to be done.

Cllr. Siobhan Ambrose said the roads were in a very poor condition and the council had less money to work on than it had the previous year. Cllr. Marie Murphy said Minster Kelly was taking credit for work being carried out on roads that had been the subject of a motion tabled by a number of councillors last September.

Cllr. Darren Ryan said it was crazy to reduce the allocation for roads given the increase in fatalities on the roads.

Cllr. Michael Fitzgerald said the emphasis of the council had to be on the rural roads as people were afraid that roads were gong to be washed away and the issues had to be addressed.

Cllr. Joe Brennan, who supported the sub-contracting proposal, said a blitz was needed on the roads in the Fethard area and the Minister needed to be lobbied again.

Cllr. Jimmy O’Brien said potholes in the main street of Drangan were repaired last week but the material was washed away by rain that night and the work had to be carried out again. There should be better quality material used to fill the holes.

Director of Services Pat Slattery said a condition survey of the roads was being carried out and they would be in a stronger position to go back to Minister Kelly when that was done.

Senior Executive Engineer Peter Britton said it was best to do a temporary job on potholes now and carry out a permanent job in better weather because it would have a better chance of lasting.