WEST Cork is not getting its fair share of funding for road repairs, according to members of the West Cork Municipal District.
Fianna Fáil Cllrs Joe Carroll and Patrick Gerard Murphy said a breakdown of income from road tax versus the spend on road improvements works shows that West Cork is doing far worse than other areas, such as Kerry.
According to Cllr Carroll, motorists are paying ‘big money’ – in the region of €100m every year – in road tax, but they are not getting a decent return for their money.
After discussing the matter at their monthly meeting in Bantry on Monday, the public representatives agreed to highlight ‘this injustice’ by tabling a motion for their next full meeting of Cork County Council.
The councillors said they would be calling for the situation to be redressed and for the funding in West Cork to be in line with the amount of road tax collected in the region.
A number of trouble spots were mentioned, but the councillors all agreed that the road through Drimoleague is the worst.
According to Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) ‘the wall in one man’s house is actually starting to crack’ from the impact of heavy vehicles driving over so many potholes.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said the condition of the N71 from the bridge in Ballydehob to the tunnels on the Kenmare road has been ‘totally neglected,’ whilst Cllr Carroll said the road on the other side of the tunnel ‘is so smooth you could roller skate into Kenmare.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said cutbacks in Government funding over the last 10 years, combined with adverse weather conditions has left the road network in a disastrous state. And he said the €44m allocation for the region – an €8m increase on 2017 – is insufficient.
A member of the Council’s engineer staff said it would be standard procedure to resurface 10% of the region’s roads every year, but the reality is that a target of 5% has been set, but even that is not being met.
Cllr O’Sullivan said the rate of road repair in West Cork is as low as 2.5% per annum and that ‘10 years of this means that our road network is disintegrating.’
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said he would like to invite those at the meeting at Aras Bheanntraí to come outside and walk around Bantry to see just how bad the potholes are throughout the town.
‘Patching won’t fix it. The roads need to be resurfaced,’ he said. Cllr Collins welcomed the fact that €32,000 was spent on resurfacing Marino Street last year, but he said the rest of the town is ‘a disgrace.’
Cllr Hegarty said she understood that resurfacing works would be carried out when the town’s old drainage system is repaired, but she said that is two years away and Bantry is heading into another busy tourism season.
She pointed out that all of the heavy goods vehicles travelling to the busy fishing port of Castletownbere are driving through Bantry and that they, as public representatives, are being ‘crucified’ at meetings with traders because the perception is that nothing is being done to improve the condition of the roads.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said there is no way of avoiding the damage that the road network is doing to peoples’ cars because photographic evidence of punctures and busted wheel rims are being posted all over Facebook and Instagram. He said it is also costing the Council tens of thousands every year in compensation claims.
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy also made the point that ‘one of the main arteries into West Cork – the road from Bantry to Cork via Coppeen – has been reduced to 80kmh because the condition of the road is ‘sub-standard.’