County Councillors who represent the biggest area of Laois believe people in their district are being short-changed in terms of the money spent on roads compared to other areas and they have a particular grievance about losing out to the Portlaoise area.
Cllr John King was the first to call into question where the roads of the Borris in Ossory Mountmellick Municipal District stood in the council's list of priorities following the recent approval of €12.6 million for roads around Laois this year.
“Most of the money is going to Portlaoise. Every time you go to Portlaoise there is huge work going on there,” claimed the Fine Gael councillor.
“Our staff are mending potholes the whole time. I want to see a breakdown of how much money we are getting in our area,” he said.
He said two bridges in the Portlaoise area had been pencilled in for money and asked what had been allocated for bridges in the south and west of Laois.
“Again, we are not getting a fair share. All are motions are about roads. We are not getting fair play. I want to see fair play,” he said.
The Rathdowney based councillor said car tyres are being damaged.
“If we have better roads we will have less bills and less insurance issues,” he told the Municipal District meeting.
Cllr Paddy Bracken said he was not happy to see no extra money coming to the district. He said staff are working full time on pot hole repairs.
“We have announcements every other day about greenways and walkways and every rural road around is in bits. It is shameful really. We may fight for extra funding. This area is in a very neglected way in terms of funding and the staff are trying to work with what they have,” he said.
He reminded the meeting that staff wages are included in the €12.6 million county grant.
Cllr James Kelly added his voice to the issue. He welcomed work under the multi-annual roads programme.
“The facts are that in 2018 we decided on a three year programme and this is the last year. This year we are going to do 25 kms of roads in a huge western area. I was totally against the three-year programme but it came from Government. I would fully support what Cllr Bracken and King are saying. We shout about getting more but we are not getting the money. I think it is a disgrace that we are not getting more funding,” he said.
Cllr Seamus McDonald also agreed.
“It's like the loaves and fishes (for the staff) having to do all the roads with no funding,” he said.
Cllr Conor Bergin welcomed the completion of work under the three years roads programme.
“There is probably a list of roads that we would all like to get done a mile long,” he said.
He agreed that three years for a programme is a long time.
“But overall it is a good programme, particularly in a year when everybody is sticking within their own 5kms,” said Cllr Bergin.
Senior Executive Engineer Cllr Edmund Kenny also updated councillors on the third year of the multi-annual roads programme for the district. Rather than patching small sections, he said the aim is to complete 800 to 900 metres on average on each road listed. A total of €2.4 million has been allocated to this year's road strengthening programme.