independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Council under fire for the €3.7m cost of going nowhere with unfinished road

THE bill to the taxpayer keeps on mounting for a road that leads to nowhere.

Cash-strapped Clare County Council has spent €3.7m – €825,974 per 100 metres – on a 450-metre stretch of road in Ennis that has not seen traffic use since it was completed three years ago.

And it has emerged that the local authority had no funding to finance a large part of the scheme and relied on its overdraft facility to fund €3.2m of it.

The taxpayer continues to meet the interest payments on the €3.2m overdraft facility.

The council has moved to fund the project through a term loan to reduce the interest burden. Councillors have given clare county manager Tom Coughlan the green light to try to raise a loan.

No traffic has used the road due to loss-making Shannon Development's failure to complete the remaining 200 metres of the route, which leads to its Information Age Park.

Explaining why the local authority went ahead with the advance route to service the park, Mr Coughlan said: "The picture being painted by Shannon Development at the time was that there would be 4,000 jobs created and they advised the council that the road was necessary to facilitate the park."

If the Information Age Park had proceeded as expected, the cost of the road would have been funded by developer contributions from the park.

Shannon Development has contributed €850,000 to the council from these.

Local Fianna Fail councillor PJ Kelly said: "It is a project that has gone seriously wrong as it is dealing with unfulfilled expectations."

The council declined to say how much it has paid out in interest on the overdraft facility for the road.

A spokesman said raising loans to cover long-term capital projects is common practice in local government.

Sensitive

Shannon Development could not put a date on when the work will start on the remaining section of the route.

A spokeswoman added: "It is a project which Shannon Development plans to undertake subject to the availability of funding. The cost of the 200 metres of roadway is commercially sensitive information as the private sector will have to tender/compete."

Four years ago, 70-year-old Barefield farmer, Oliver Clune, was jailed for over a week for contempt of court over the compulsory purchase of 1.7 acres of land to facilitate the development.

Irish Independent

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