There is no sign yet of government funding in 2016 to fix minor roads in Laois, but the council will not fix any roads surfaced by community funded schemes.
The Community Involvement Scheme which gave communities grants to repair minor roads, has had no funding since 2014. Neither is there money for the Local Improvement Scheme.
Cllr Brendan Phelan asked at the January meeting to reinstate the LIS scheme.
“It was very rewarding and helped people to access their property be it a farm or a single house on a lane. The council looked after that scheme very well. Even if we brought it in on a limited basis, on a couple of areas,” he asked.
Cllr Willie Aird agreed.
“Is there anything we can do legally? There are potholes now on roads done under the scheme but they can’t get the council to fix them because they have not been taken in charge. I’d say it would only be a full lorry load of tar over the county. The IFA are also lobbying for the return of the LIS,” he said.
Director of Services Kieran Kehoe confirmed they cannot fix the roads.
“Unfortunately the roads allocation is not up to the required level to meet demands of public roads, let alone private roads. We are under severe pressure, and there is an insurance issue if we go in because if something wasn’t done right, we are immediately liable. Roads can however be forwarded to the roads section to have them taken in charge,” he said.
The Chief Executive John Mulholland said cllrs “knew full well” that the council's responsibility is in maintaining public roads only.
“The LIS is for private roads. In its absence, people will find it difficult to get resources. In cases of undue hardship we will try to assist. But roads take huge investment, if that money was spent on private roads, we’d be asked why we were spending public money. A rural road is the same as a private housing scheme,” he said.
“It is not correct to say they are private roads. it’s public access,” said Cllr Phelan.
“They are non public roads,” the council CEO said.