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Paying for a proper service

Driving home last week I was listening to the radio and heard the head of a local authority bemoaning the lack of funding, and that the €100 household charge was not being paid by everyone.

When he was questioned about his very generous salary, he compared himself to the heads of large companies that have comparable budgets and staffing levels.

The question of how our local authorities are funded will not go away, so I thought what does the local authority do for me? As someone from a rural part of the county, there doesn’t seem much. There are only a handful of street lights in the area, maybe a dozen. We have very little footpaths, and the majority of houses have septic tanks or are in a group system.

Mains water may be available to some of the houses, but only those along the larger roads. Most homes would have their own well. We have no library, parks, and our play areas are provided by the local volunteer organisations and schools. Waste collection is provided by private operators or by people travelling to a recycling centre.

So what is left? It’s the roads. The weather this summer (and every winter) exposes the lack of focus given to this part of the county council’s mandate. As I travelled home by driving into the hedgerows to avoid huge potholes and standing water, slowing down to get past rubble and stones and water crossing the roads, I also had to pass diversion signs where roads are closed due to being washed away.

The majority of damage to the roads in this country is down to water; for a country this wet, not being able to deal with rain water and run-off is borderline criminal.

Proper maintenance of the dykes and ditches should be a priority. The evidence of this is along the motorways. These are all constructed with drains and dykes to take the water off the road. The hedges have not been properly cut by the council in over 10 years around here and the drains have not been maintained in most places for even longer. All this pushes the water onto the roads and washes away the top surface.

If the local authority were unwilling or unable to carry out basic road maintenance when the country was “awash with money”, then I doubt they will do it now.

If the head of the local authority wants to see the level of service he is providing then I will gladly invite him to bring his wife’s car down here and I will take him on a tour of the locality. He can then explain to his wife why her car is dirty, the suspension rattles, where the scratches on the paint work come from, why the steering pulls to one side, and how the alloys got damaged.

Considering the level of service that is provided perhaps he was thinking of companies like the Quinn Group and Anglo Irish Bank rather than Apple and the Kerry Group when comparing his job to that of other large organisations?

Tom Coleman


Co Cork


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