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18 May 2022

Outrage at major delays in works on Longford road

Significant delay: Ballinalee Road works will go on until end of year

Outrage at major delays in works on Longford road

Councillors have expressed outrage at the significant delays in works being carried out on the Major Well, Ballinalee Road. Works are due to continue until at least the end of this year.

Cllr Seamus Butler initially brought up the issue, stating that the delay was “extraordinary”.

“You could’ve built the Taj Mahal with the amount of work that’s being done in such a small area,” he said.

“Unless there’s an almighty change, I can’t see it being finished in April. Have we a new finish date? It just seems to be ongoing, ongoing, ongoing. They seem to be going back and forwards and forwards and back.

“Surely, in god’s name if we can’t do a stretch of road of 350 or 400 metres in a four or five-month period, we should be taken out and put up against the wall when the revolution comes.”

Area Engineer for Longford Municipal District Brian Faughnan informed Cllr Butler that the initial April completion date would be surpassed and the works were not due to finish until the end of this year.

“My God,” said a stunned Cllr Butler, “Whose heads are going to roll? Who is accountable in this town and county? Who can we call? Should we have someone from TII at our next meeting? This is going to go on until Christmas this year? That’s twelve months for 350m of road?”

Mr Faughnan explained that there were a few “unforseens” at the beginning of the project but no reason was given for the significant delay.

Cllr John Browne noted that while it was “regrettable” there was such a delay, it was good that the works were ongoing.

“My own observation is that there’s a colossal amount of work being done in relation to the services they’ve been putting in underneath,” he said.

“The works are being done and they will get done and I’m satisfied myself that at least the works are ongoing. Okay, I understood the works were going to be finished around August. It’s news to me now that it will go on to the end of the year. It’s highly regrettable.”

Cllr Gerry Warnock who, at the most recent meeting of Longford County Council, bemoaned the lack of action on a number of regeneration projects in the town, said that the people of Longford town “deserve better” than such significant delays.

“There always seems to be problems with carrying out works within a reasonable time frame in Longford town,” he said.

“And we’ve been passive for a hell of a long time and we’ve given contractors the benefit of the doubt. But every project shouldn’t be delayed. But this is the situation when it comes to Longford town works.

“If you look outside of the town at some of the other areas, there’s projects coming left, right and centre, no problems at all but nothing whatsoever here in Longford town.

“Again, there’s nobody throwing spuds at the likes of Brian or our team but there always seems to be problems when there are third parties involved, be it the TII or outside contractors.

“It’s not good enough and the people of Longford town deserve a bit more. We have about a third of the population of the county living in and around the town. We cannot accept it.

“We sat on our hands for years here in Longford town giving the benefit of the doubt and it has to stop. We need a commitment here now that the county town is prioritised. It needs to be prioritised. It’s ground zero.

“After the economic downturn, after Covid, Longford town needs to be fired on all cylinders. That is despite the best efforts of the elected members who have been all about this for years and years but have been met with walls time and time again. It’s just not good enough.”

Cllr Peggy Nolan noted that the frustration among herself and her colleagues was “palpable” and stated this was not the only project that has been delayed in Longford of late.

“Every time we go to do something in Longford town there’s an overrun. Are there penalties for these contractors for the inconvenience that they’re going to cause? The job is now overrunning almost a year,” she fumed.

“Look at what it’s doing to the aesthetics of the town. It’s totally unacceptable. When you are Cathaoirleach of the county and you are privileged enough to be there when other projects are being launched and other projects are being brought to fruition and you can see the work that is going on in every corner of the county except in this town.

“It’s our responsibility as the Municipal District of Longford to put our foot down and get them moving.

“They’re not moving. They’re stopping and starting. They’re splittering and spluttering. It’s like a car that the engine is banjaxed in. We need to be a little bit more firm with these contractors.”

Cllr Martin Monaghan agreed, asking that someone involved in the works be asked to come to the next meeting to explain the delay.

“TII are absolutely useless as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

“They’ll have an excuse for everything, so I think the clerk who works on the job would be the person I’d be looking to speak to. Any project that comes in you have to have a programme of works to see where that 12 month delay is. That is ridiculous beyond belief.”

He also requested that the programme of works be made available for the next MD meeting to give councillors an opportunity to see where the delay is coming from.

“These contracts are fixed price contracts,” said Mr Faughnan in response to the members’ concerns.

“There aren’t any penalties in the contracts and that’s the reality. The Ballinalee Road project is supervised by a contractor appointed by the consultants. And from that point of view we have very little input into the management of the day to day running of that project.

“I’ll speak to the roads design section and see can we get someone here at the next meeting, either from the roads design section or the from the project itself to give us an update on what’s actually happening or what the reasons for the delays are,” he continued.

“There is a big problem with projects where contracts are signed and there’s huge increases in cost - contractors are very reluctant to progress even though the contract is signed because of the additional cost.”

Director of Services John Brannigan agreed that the delay to the Ballinalee works was unacceptable:

“There’s always some unforseens. It’s incredible that it could take an extra 12 months to finish that job but we’ll get the programme and we’ll see what the timeline around that project is.”

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