Offaly roads funding under fire again despite increase
Offaly roads funding has come under scrutiny once again despite an annual increase of around €2.5 million announced recently.
It was reported at the March meeting of Offaly County Council that the total funding allocation for the 2018 Roadworks Programme has increased year on year by €2.5 million.
The €11.9 million to be spent on upgrade and maintenence work on Offaly's roads this year comes from three sources - internal council funding, the TII and the Department of Transport.
The TII will supply €2.5 million, the Department of Transport €7.69 million, and Offaly County Council itself €1.64 million.
Despite this increase, a number of councillors raised concerns about the adequacy of the funding to tackle the ongoing issues with infrastructure in the county at the March meeting of Offaly County Council on Monday last, March 26.
Responding to the breakdown of spending for 2018 on the agenda of the meeting, Cllr Declan Harvey commented that the funding is still "not enough" to tackle Offaly's deteriorating road surfaces. He mentioned the amount of roads in Offaly built on peat foundations (approx. 60%) and the recent storms which took their toll on many roads.
Responding to Cllr Harvey, Cathaoirleach Liam Quinn said that "we can only spend what we have," but went on to agree that Offaly County Council should apply centrally to Department of Transport for additional funding. He went on to say he would gladly accept motions for such applications from councillors.
Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney said, "we've been making the case for Offaly for additional funding, specifically due to the peat underlay on many roads."
Cllr Brendan Killeavy also pointed to the recent storm that he described as having a "huge impact" on the state of the county's roads. While saying funding itself was not enough, he also suggested Offaly County Council needed to re-evaluate how allocations are set out and the nature of work carried out. "Are we doing enough?" he asked, while adding, "we need to look at ourselves too as well as going to the Department."
Cllr John Leahy and Cllr Dervill Dolan both agreed with those sentiments, while Eddie Fitzpatrick asked for clarification on the recruitment of extra general operatives to carry out such works, particularly in the Edenderry area. Chief Executive Anna Marie Delaney said that 12 general operatives have been recruited countywide and that contracts had been issued. She expected them to be on the ground working "imminently."
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