Local communities may be asked to provide materials and carry out work on private laneways themselves because just €18,000 is available to correct close to 100 projects across north Longford, writes Liam Cosgrove.
Fianna Fail’s Luie McEntire this week led calls for an urgent meeting with Environment Minister Alan Kelly over the State’s Local Improvement Scheme (LIS).
Under the scheme, which had been scrapped in 2012, local authorities had been allowed to upgrade so-called ‘non-public’ roads in predominantly rural areas.
Following an additional allocation of €185,000 in July handed down by the Department of Transport, Granard Municipal District members agreed to ring-fence 10 per cent, or almost €18,000 for LIS.
But with almost 100 projects still to be approved across the county, it’s believed that five figure sum would barely comver the cost of one application.
Cllr McEntire, who raised the issue at last week’s Granard Municipal District meeting, said there were a number of other options open to the Government.
“Instead of getting families to pay 20 per cent of the cost themselves, they could perhaps carry out some of the work themselves, provide a certain amount of labour and materials,” he said.
Cllr McEntire said he knew of one locally based famly who employed up to 10 people who were willing to do just that.
However, he said greater clarity was needed in terms of addressing the large backlog of proposed LIS projects that were still on the books of Longford County Council.
“They (government) are telling us that we can put in a percentage of road funding into LIS jobs but how do you prioritise LIS schemes how do you go about taking it off our road funding?” Cllr McEntire asked.
Another who was keen to address the wider LIS debate was Fine Gael’s John Duffy.
His calls for the Council to use up to 15 per cent of its discretionary roads funding for LIS works were voted down at County Council level in 2013.
And while he accepted the allocation of almost €18,000 was not enough, Cllr Duffy said getting the scheme back on the “discussion table” was an important step forward.
“What I am calling for is that counties like Longford, Leitrim , Clare, Kerry and Donegal are looked at on an individual county basis with a separate allocation being given to disadvantaged counties for LIS schemes,” he said.