Irish News

Thursday 10 July 2014

Local groups will pay to fix their potholes in new scheme

Treacy Hogan

Published 21/05/2013|04:00

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Alan Kelly: launched the unusual community scheme

CASH-STRAPPED communities have been asked by the Government to pay up to 50pc of the cost of fixing their potholes or carrying out the work themselves.

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Already reeling under a raft of new charges, locals will have to put their hands in their pockets or get their shovels out if they want their roads repaired under a radical new scheme.

Under the plan unveiled yesterday, a total of €10.6m is being provided by the Government for road repairs at 377 locations.

But the catch is that the respective communities have had to come up with another €4m in cash, manpower or tools.

A list of the planned schemes show that the local contribution ranges from about 20pc to as much as 50pc.

The scheme applies to local roads, including country lanes and boreens. Meath has received most money from the Government – a total of €1.55m.

Some communities have paid money while others have supplied manpower or machinery, a government spokesman said.

The radical scheme came about after the Department of Transport contacted every local authority last year and asked it to seek out community groups, individuals and organisations who were prepared to contribute to the cost of fixing the potholes or other road repairs.

The councils then published details of the scheme and invited applications from communities prepared to contribute between 20pc and 50pc of the cost. Hundreds of groups then applied and said they were willing to share the cost.

FUNDRAISING

The groups said they were prepared to raise the money through fundraising, or by providing the labour to do the job.

In other cases, agricultural contractors who needed potholes repaired to access areas said they would pay the contribution or instead provide the machinery and labour, while in other cases, groups of farmers got together to help pay to get their damaged roads fixed.

Also, some chambers of commerce groups and other local organisations also agreed to share the cost.

A department spokesperson said the 377 schemes approved were agreed between the various councils and the local groups and would now proceed, but subject to the groups coming up with their contribution.

Many of the country's local roads are in a dangerous state, with numerous potholes, following the freezing winter.

Cuts in funding over recent years – coupled with two harsh winters which caused widespread damage – means the network is not being maintained.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has already said that no new local or regional roads will be built or upgraded over the coming year.

Funding will only be made available for emergency maintenance works.

The unusual Community Involvement Scheme launched by Junior Minister Alan Kelly yesterday is aimed at fixing 240km of road. He said the funding would be available over the next two years.

"This represents a new and innovative reform of our road maintenance system and work with a total value of over €14m can now be carried out at a cost to the taxpayer of €10.6m with the balance being contributed by the local community."

Mr Kelly said that in the normal course of a county council's road works programme, repairs to minor county roads would only be considered towards the end of the programme after more heavily trafficked routes had been dealt with.

"If there are particular problems affecting a given stretch of road and if the local community are willing to assist the local authority in money or kind with the necessary works, then such roads can be improved sooner than would otherwise be the case," he said.

"This pilot Community Involvement in Road Works Scheme is purely a voluntary scheme and is available to give local communities the opportunity to have these works completed where they would not normally be considered for funding."

The full list of road repairs county by county being funded under the scheme is at www.independent.ie/potholes

Irish Independent

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