Mountmellick area councillors have complained that roads beyond Clonaslee up to the Offaly border are not being gritted.
Following a request that Laois County Council leave salt supplies in north Laois villages in case of frost, Cllr Seamus McDonald asked what was the situation when frost came.
“There has been two serious accidents at Coolagh Cross, the council don’t seem to go further than Clonaslee,” he told the Mountmellick electoral area meeting.
Cllr David Goodwin asked that salt be left at Rosenallis, Ballyfin, Clonaslee and Clonaghadoo, but council engineer Tom O’Carroll said they had no budget to salt local roads.
“Salt costs ten to twenty times more than grit. Two thirds of the cost of treating roads is salt, that has to come from a local budget, not from the NRA or Dept of Transport,” explained Mr O’Carroll.
Cllr Goodwin amended his request to grit instead.
Cllr Pat Bowe said people couldn’t understand why gritting was not carried out to the border.
“If people are up there crashing their cars because we don’t apply salt or grit, who would be responsible? It is needed even more across this mountain strip,” he said.
“This comes up annually, this is a busy road, well shaded,” agreed Cllr Paddy Bracken.
“I support this 100 per cent. Last week there was very little frost but that road was virtually impassible. There is a school there as well,” said Cllr David Goodwin, referring to Castlecuffe NS.
The Council’s winter plan has just one road gritted in north west Laois, from Mountmellick as far as Clonaslee, leaving the Slieve Blooms and surrounding villages untouched. Offaly County Council do likewise, gritting just one main road on their side of the mountains, from Birr to Roscrea.
Meanwhile it has also emerged that the roster of duty engineers responsible for the gritting of roads in Laois will be distributed to all councillors.
Cllr Willie Aird asked at the December meeting of the Portlaoise Electoral Area committee that councillors be furnished with the roster and relevant telephone numbers to enable them to contact the person responsible for the gritting of roads.
“It means when we receive a call from a member of the public that we can make a call to the relevant person and enquire if a road has been gritted,” explained Cllr Aird.
Central Area Engineer Tom O’Carroll said the Council was at capacity in terms of the number of roads they can treat.
Cllr Aird said all roads around Portlaoise need to be gritted. “One run with the gritting machine does a great job.”
Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald asked Mr O’Carroll ‘to do their best to cover school run routes’.
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