05 Jul 2022

Omission of school routes from Laois road salting deemed 'unacceptable' and 'ridiculous'

Omission of school routes from Laois road salting deemed 'unacceptable' and 'ridiculous'

Just seven gritting routes in Laois

A road that serves a busy Laois secondary school will only be salted to prevent ice if another road in Laois is not treated, according to Laois County Council.

The response was deemed unacceptable by a county councillor who called for the Knockbeg Road to be placed on a council salting route during the frosty weather.

The proposal led to other public representatives to call for a bigger plan to treat routes around all schools when roads freeze during the winter.

Cllr Ben Brennan, Independent< proposed salting on the road in a motion tabled at the recent Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District meeting.  

Mr. Adrian Barrett, Senior Engineer, replied in writing.

“Laois County Council’s winter salting operation consists of seven routes that treat 479.5km of public roadway in county Laois.  The capacity of the salting vehicles is utilised fully i.e. there is no salt remaining when a route is completed.  The inclusion of any additional lengths of road for salting would be subject to the removal of an existing salted road,” he said.

Cllr Brennan would not accept that.

“I don’t accept that. So to get something done, somebody else has to be penalised. For God's sake that is ridiculous. I don’t want anybody penalised but I don’t want anybody hurt,” he said.

He said there are 500 pupils attending the schools, which means hundreds of vehicles travel the road at drop off and pick up times.

Because of this he said it is a ‘total disgrace’ that the road is not treated. He said the road is narrow and would not require a large quantity of salt.

He warned that an accident would soon lead to salting.

“But that’s what we are heading for,” he said.

Cllr Brennan said salting is only required when the road is dangerous after a sharp frost.

He begged officials to act: “I am pleading for it to be done for health and safety reasons”.

He was backed by other councillors.

Cllr Aislling Moran, Fine Gael, said she fully agreed.

“It is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

She challenged the council over the fact that just seven routes are treated.

“There are so many roads that need to be salted,” she said.

She said further explanation is needed on the seven route limit. Cllr Moran also wanted more money for the salting budget.

Cllr Aidan Mullins, Sinn Féin, believed that resources appeared to be short.

“It needs to be reviewed to see if additional resources and equipment are available,” he said. 

He added that not enough is being done to improve access to rural schools during cold and snowy weather. 

Cllr Paschal McEvoy, Fianna Fáil, agreed with his colleagues. He said schools must be prioritised and an accident should not have to happen. He proposed that councillors work with council officials to prepare a salting plan for school roads.

Cllr Padraig Fleming, Fianna Fáil, also supported. He said it is a serious issue on the Knockbeg road which is used by many people.

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