South and west Laois has only half the road workers the Portlaoise area has, despite having more kilometres of road, according to Councillor John King who called for an extra engineer and more road workers.
“I have done my research and we are very badly treated in the western area”, Cllr King told last week’s meeting of Borris in Ossory electoral area. He put forward the notice of motion as a matter of urgency stating that the workload was “far too great” for Michael Malone and his staff.
Mr Malone stated that he will be working on another job over the next five months, but he will still be available to assist councillors. He added that a replacement will be brought in. “It is only five months but it is our busiest period”, he said.
Cllr John Joe Fennelly said that it was “fierce important” to get adequate service for the area.
“We lost one engineer and we could lose another senior engineer, we want to get back to where we were”, he said. He was echoed by Cllr Brendan Phelan who said that it needed to be highlighted. “If Michael Malone is not here we’ll be going back and forth. We seriously need an engineer”.
The Borris in Ossory electoral area falls under the western area of Laois County Council for works to be carried out.
The western area has 598km of roads according to Cllr King, while the central area (Portlaoise and its surrounds) has only 501km of roads. Despite having more roads, the western area has two engineers compared to the central area’s three engineers. It also has only half of the central area’s 24 workers, added Mr King.
“Although there are 16 workers allocated to the western area, two of those are on sick leave and another two work with Mountrath Fire Service so they are not available, leaving only 12 workers compared to the central area’s 24”.
Cllr King also said that the eastern area (covering Portarlington and the eastern side of the county) has 623 km of roads with two engineers and 17 workers.
The council’s reply came from John O’ Donoghue in the Roads department.
“Laois County Council will re-examine this issue in the context of ongoing workforce planning, redeployments, secondments to Irish Water and the return to work of some staff currently on career break over the coming months. It should also be noted that the current relocation process for all area staff into County Hall may assist in providing opportunities for additional technical support to be provided for the western area”.
It was suggested that the councillors meet with John O’ Donoghue from the Roads department to discuss the matter. “We have to meet as a group. We have always been shortchanged, we have two mountains in the area, with Cullahill and the Slieve Blooms”, added Cllr King.