A BUDGET must be set aside for the annual cleaning and maintenance of ‘dirty’ road signs across the county, a West Cork councillor has urged.
Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) raised the issue at a meeting of the local authority recently, which she said was not only threatening the tourism product on offer in Cork, but was also becoming a health and safety issue.
The Southern Star highlighted the ongoing issue of dirty road signs and road signs being obscured by foliage last year.
Cllr Coakley said it is an ‘embarrassment’ driving around the county looking at various road signs, many of which are illegible due to dirt and grime.
‘We have one chance to make a first impression to tourists but for many visiting here it’s absolutely shocking to see the dirty signs, some of which are blocked by hedges and growth,’ she said.
She said regular cleaning of road signs would help, and highlighted incidents of car stopping on roads and junctions, struggling to read dirty signs.
‘This could cause traffic accidents and it’s a major safety concern – regular cleaning has to be prioritised.’
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said all it takes is a ‘bucket of sudsy water’ to clean them.
‘I see it all over West Cork and I think there should be a policy in place that signs be cleaned all over the county. You wouldn’t send your child out in the morning with a dirty face!’ said Cllr Collins.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said the state of some signs around West Cork are an ‘embarrassment’ and pointed out that it wasn’t that long ago that they had a man based in Skibbereen who used to go around cleaning them.
‘I can’t see why this can’t be done again, but our staff are being continuously cut all the time.
‘We need to go back to what we had before, or else put it out to contract to get someone to clean the signs,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Ross O’Connell (SD) said some road signs he has come across are ‘desperate and unreadable’ and added that in the Mizen peninsula, where tourism is so important, something needed to be done.
Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said some structure needs to be put in place and said there seems to be a continual ‘slippage’ of delegating work to Tidy Towns committees and other voluntary groups, rather doing the job in house.
‘We need to properly resource it, especially in our tourist.
‘There needs to be some sort of audit every few months to ensure the signs are faced the right way and are clean and legible,’ said Cllr Hayes, who also highlighted some faded speed signs.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) added that graffiti had also been sprayed on many road signs over the past two years but that a substance has been sourced to clean and treat them.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said this topic should ideally be discussed at budget time because it comes down to finance at the end of the day.
Cllr Susan McCarthy (FG) said some road signs are so bad that they may as well be non-existent.
Her colleague, Cllr Kevin Murphy said what is needed is an annual programme to be put in place so that they can get to grips with the problem, while Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said that maybe there should be a renewed focus on the signs as the tourism season is expected to be busier this summer.
Padraig Barrett, director of services, roads and transportation, said they don’t have enough finance to maintain the roads that they want to, but asked councillors to contact their local area office with specific signs that need to be cleaned or replaced.
Council assistant chief executive Valerie O’Sullivan said the first thing is to develop a policy in relation to signage and then fund it. Councillors agreed to refer it to the strategic policy committee on roads.