The failure to build a relief road around Mountmellick is “one of the big regrets” of Laois County Council manager Peter Carey.
The inner relief road was designed to divert N80 traffic from the town centre, starting at Irishtown bridge. However following objections by some homeowners who wanted it to begin further out the Portlaoise road, planning permission was refused in 2008.
“I had just arrived (as county manager) when that was reaching boiling point. There is no point going back over it. It might not have been the ideal solution, the problem was it was the only one available. Unfortunately circumstances worked against us,” Mr Carey told town councillors.
“The N80 is our top priority. It will not be done over the next two or three years but it remains there as a key objective. When it will be done is anyone’s guess at this stage,” Mr Carey said.
The road was one of a list of unfinished projects highlighted by councillors to Mr Carey at their September meeting.
Other items including the upgrading and extension of the sewerage system, a bus stop and a new fire station.
The town council will be abolished next May as part of a reform of local government.
While he was ‘not pleased to see the demise of town councils’, Carey said the level of service would not drop.
“I assure you no matter the changes, there will be no diminution of engineering or support services, there will still be a strong focus on the town,” he said.
He said he did not know the details of how new municipal districts would work.
“I don’t know what will happen. The county is being divided into three districts, our job is to sit down and revise all management structures. We are working through what these changes mean, it’s just unprecedented,” he said.
He added that council officials “are trying to get our heads around” the handing over of water services to Irish Water in 2014.
Cllr Marc Connolly remarked they were “under a death sentence” with just ten meetings left.
“I cannot see why, the budgetary saving is miniscule. They could drop one Dáil advisor and keep two town councils. The joke is it’s called ‘Putting People First’. Potentially Laois are losing 18 public representatives, it’s the people who are losing,” he said.
Councillors took turns to thank the county manager and staff for their co-operation, prompting town manager Ian McCormack to remark “it sounds like we are at our last meeting”.
A book will be printed to commemorate town councils.