Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Seán Lynch calls for ring-fencing of budget for deteriorating road network

Published: 6 April, 2016

Sinn Féin Assembly Candidate, Seán Lynch, has welcomed Transport NI undertaking to resurface roads in Roslea over the summer however, he is critical of the current budgetary constraints on maintaining the road network and is calling on the Executive to ring-fence funding.

Mr Lynch said:

"There are speed ramps coming into Roslea, from the Lisnaskea end of town, which are currently unnecessary as the road surface has deteriorated so much that people are having to slow right down in order to negotiate the road which is pitted with potholes and uneven surfaces.

"For a county town, this is really unacceptable. However, after raising the poor condition of the roads in Roslea with officials from Transport NI, I have been given an undertaking that resurfacing works will be carried out right into the centre of the town over the summer months.

"These works will cause some disruption, however, they are necessary and I would hope that they can be completed in a timely manner at times that would reduce the disruption as much as possible.

"I intend to liaise with Transport NI in this regard along with my party colleague, local Councillor Brian McCaffrey, who lives in the town.

"Of course, once complete, the road will benefit local people coming and going through the town daily as well as visitors coming to enjoy what our area has to offer.

"This is just one example of poor road surfacing across the county and sits amongst other problems with the general road network; problems which have been exacerbated following the recent flooding. No matter where I go in the county people are talking about the deplorable and dangerous state of the roads. I see it for myself daily. Many of the main roads are in a poor condition and the minor roads are worse again.

"Just last week locals in Teemore were telling me about the condition of the roads at Teemore Cross. This is the main road connecting Fermanagh to Cavan and Dublin that is so important for not only our local people coming and going to work and school, it is also of huge importance to some of our main employers in the area and for tourists coming to enjoy our county.

"I welcome the recent spending by the Department for Regional Development on some roads in particularly poor condition. However, the current system for funding allocation to roads is wholly inadequate in terms of budget constraints.

"The blame for this does not lie at the door of Transport NI, who are doing their best in the circumstances. At present, funding is dictated by in-year monitoring rounds by the Department of Finance and Personnel.

"Whilst holding the Vice-Chair position on the Committee for Regional Development, I, along with my party colleagues have been in ongoing discussions with the Quarry Products Association and have lobbied the Executive to ensure that funding for structural maintenance of the roads network is ring-fenced.

"Year on year the budget allocated to maintaining the road network has been reduced. Over the term of the last Assembly mandate funding has been reduced to just over a quarter of what it was at the start of it. This is having a significant impact on the condition of our roads and ensuring that maintenance works are haphazard and reactionary rather than structured.

"The 2010 Snaith Report highlighted that underspending on our roads network inevitably costs us more money. When road surfaces are merely patched up, they break down again more easily, leading to re-patching and it goes on and on. This is what happens when Transport NI cannot plan ahead; when they can only react to the more serious and dangerous issues. This is simply not sustainable.

"Transport NI are simply in the position where they are unable to effectively plan maintenance works and there is an over-reliance on funding coming from the in-year monitoring rounds which is dependent on other departments making savings; something which is more and more difficult to do given the increasing budgetary pressures being imposed upon us by the Tory government in London.

"A recent CBI survey showed that 94% of businesses view the condition of our roads infrastructure as most important in making investment decisions.

"The condition of the roads network has a knock-on effect on businesses, on the general public and tax payers in terms of liability payments.

"The condition of roads is of safety concern in most areas; poor roads are dangerous roads and my big concern would be that lives would be lost on our roads due to their poor quality.

"It is easy to see the detrimental effect that these budgetary constraints are having on our road network, especially in a rural constituency like ours and whilst I do welcome the extra funding that was released by the new DRD Minister, this is only secured to the end of this mandate and I, along with my party colleagues will be lobbying for a systematic change in the new mandate."