Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Budget outlook ‘spells disaster’ for local roads

SDLP Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne claims the scenarios presented in the recently published Budgetary Outlook for 2018-2020 spells disaster for roads throughout south Armagh.

The Budgetary Outlook defines broad strategic issues that will help form an incoming Executive’s decisions on spending over the next two years and those within the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) present a depressing picture for the already crumbling road network across the district, he says.

Councillor Byrne says he is inundated with reports of potholes and the general deterioration of road surfaces, and claims the planned reduction in roads’ maintenance service announced by DfI last week will compound the problem.

“What this means in practice for road users is that the depth for repairing potholes on roads with a lower traffic flow has doubled to 4 inches. That means cars will have to navigate ankle deep craters before anything is done about it,” he explained.

“People are angry and rightly so, it is absolutely ludicrous for the Department of Infrastructure to encourage road users to adjust the way they drive to take into account the poor condition of roads. I would of course always encourage road users to drive safely, but tell that to the Ambulance Service who already find it difficult to reach areas of south Armagh in an emergency. People in this region deserve basic infrastructure which is adequately maintained.”

At a recent meeting of the Council’s Strategic, Policy and Resource Committee, Councillor Byrne says he called for any proposed cuts to future budgets to be” rural proofed” and pledged to continue campaigning for the needs of rural communities.