CORK County Council it emerged yesterday is facing swingeing cuts of almost €17 million in its road maintenance grants.
The big fear among shocked county councillors is that potholes could blight most of the roads in areas like west Cork.
At a meeting in Clonakilty, management advised councillors that the slashing of Department of Environment grants would lead to a reduction of €4.2m in the budget for west Cork roads, alone.
The news was delivered by officials after Councillor John O’Shea (FG) said he’d been notified of cuts of up to 50% in road maintenance programmes for area offices in the west Cork region.
“More than a €1m is being cut off the programme in the Bantry area office and I believe the figure is nearly €1m in Dunmanway.
“Things are so bad we won’t be able to pay the wages by Christmas,” Mr O’Shea claimed.
He asked Theresa White, assistant county manager, what the cuts would mean on the ground.
The manager admitted the cuts were “fairly drastic” and said she was preparing a report on the impact they would have for the region’s roads.
Ms White said she would convey details of the proposed report to councillors as soon as possible.
Cllr Danny Crowley (FF) said he was also concerned about the impact the cuts would have.
Mr O’Shea said there were some councillors — in the run up to the local elections — already promising constituents potholes would be filled, ditches cleaned, flooding alleviated and hedges cut.
“The reality is this isn’t going to happen. There are roads in west Cork that you can hardly travel at the moment. Soon you won’t be able to travel them at all,” Mr O’Shea said.
Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan (FG) said the cuts in funding should be made equally among the coastal region’s area council offices, but his party colleague, Cllr Dermot Sheehan, said peninsula areas needed as much as they could get.
Mr O’Shea proposed the issue be discussed at a full meeting of the council in County Hall.
He won support for this motion from Mr O’Donovan.
Cllr Donal O’Rourke said it wasn’t just Cork suffering from the cutbacks in road maintenance.
“This is a national issue. We should let management report back to us on the implications of the cuts and then discuss them in full,” the Fianna Fáil councillor said.
But Mr O’Shea said the problem had arisen because of a decision made by Mr O’Rourke’s colleagues in the cabinet.
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