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27/07/2021

Laois must get its 'fair share' of extra money for 'private' rural roads

Council must prioritise applications from residents in long backlog on longest waiters

Laois must get its 'fair share' of extra money for 'private' rural roads

Cllr Conor Bergin and Minister Heather Humphreys in Portlaoise

People on waiting lists in Laois to get Government help to carry out overdue upgrades on their roads are in with a chance of getting work done before the year.

The potential for residents on so-called private roads to have repairs carried out is the result of an announcement by Minister for Rural Development, Heather Humphreys TD of an additional €10.5 million for Local Improvement Schemes across the Country.

Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Councillor Conor Bergin has welcomed the news which he said could add to the €270,000 which was allocated to Laois for repairs and improvement works on non-public roads in May this year.

He said that was increase of 5% on the 2020 allocation for Laois. This money has already been spent by Laois County Council in full for 2021.

''Today's announcement by Minister Heather Humphreys is great news for County Laois. The urgent need for additional funding for rural roads in Laois is an issue that is raised at virtually every monthly meeting of Laois County Council and the subject of numerous notices of motion at our Municipal District meetings. I have spoken with local Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan who has been in contact with Minister Humphreys on this issue," said Cllr Bergin.

The ball is now in the court of Laois County Council to bring forward ready to go schemes.

''I understand the Department will engage with Laois County Council to establish the level of demand that can be met in Co Laois before year end. Once that process is complete, The Minister will announce the specific allocations to be provided to each County from this increased funding. I am determined that County Laois must get its fair share of this €10.5 million which has been announced nationally.

''As Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council I will be advocating with the management of the Council to ensure that we put the best case forward to secure additional funding and that this money is spent to deliver the maximum benefit for rural Laois roads and the many families, in particular farming families who depend on them," he said.

Cllr Bergin said there can be no jumping the queue however.

''Any applications are dealt with strictly in order of date of application, in order to ensure that the distribution of the funding is fair to all applicants. This means that applicants who are the longest time on the waiting list will be offered the grant firstly, and so on working in chronological order.

''There is a significant backlog of applications for Local Improvement Schemes in Laois County Council, some of which are going back almost a decade and I am hopeful that this extra funding can now be utilised to begin to clear this waiting list," he said.

To qualify there must be a certain number of farmers living on a road. Residents must also come up with a contribution do public money will cover most of the costs.

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