BY KIERAN O’MAHONY
COUNTY Mayor Cllr Declan Hurley has described the cross-party council delegation’s meeting with Transport Minister Shane Ross in Dublin on Monday as productive and timely.
‘It was an eye-opener for Minister Ross, I would say, as we highlighted the various infrastructural investment that is needed in the county ranging from the N71 to the Macroom by-pass. We also highlighted the lack of return on motor tax paid out by Cork County Council in road re-investment and improvements,’ Cllr Hurley told The Southern Star.
‘A mid-term review of the National Capital Programme is ongoing at the moment and until that is carried out nothing will be agreed. I do think our delegation was timely too as the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is keen to make infrastructural projects a priority with this government.’
Cllr Hurley added that the state of Cork roads is top of the list when both he and his colleagues meet with members of the public and that it needs adequate investment.
Top of the agenda at Monday’s meeting was the requirement of transport infrastructure investment for Cork in order to fully realise the potential set in Cork 2050, a joint strategy with Cork City Council, which predicts that, with the right infrastructure in place, Cork is capable of creating up to 120,000 new jobs by the year 2050.
Funding requirements for regional and local roads was also discussed. Cork County Council overseas the maintenance of the country’s largest road network of over 12,500 kilometres and has seen funding from the Department fall dramatically in recent years, from €65 million in 2008 to €29.5 million in 2016.
Tom Stritch, Cork County Council Director of Services for Roads also noted the merits of the meeting.
‘A very strong case has been made to Minister Ross outlining both the requirements, and benefits, of additional funding which would allow Cork County Council to fully deliver on our Roads services,’ said Mr Stritch.
Councillor Paul Hayes (SF) was part of the cross party delegation who met with Minister Ross and is hopeful that they made a strong case for increased funding for the region. ‘Thanks to Mayor Declan Hurley for convening this meeting to give us another opportunity to highlight a wide range of issues affecting West Cork.
‘We also discussed hedge cutting to improve the health and safety for cyclists and pedestrians on our public roads, issues with Irish Water delaying urgent road resurfacing works and the need to get value for money for the €95 million accrued in road tax in County Cork annually,’ said Cllr Hayes.