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Attack on rural communities

Devastating cuts to NI road service maintenance threaten road safety
Hajera Blagg, Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Rural communities across Northern Ireland are under grave risk to their safety after Unite has discovered plans to severely cut road maintenance services.

Unite representatives were informed that Transport NI management have proposed reducing the inspection of rural roads for potholes from three times a year to only once a year. Management has also planned to patch only the very worst potholes in the future.

As the proposals now stand, only category R1 potholes, which require a 24-hour response, will be fixed, while other lower grade potholes, including grades R2 and R3, will be unlikely to be dealt with.

Unite regional officer Gareth Scott called the situation “intolerable”.

“The impact of these cuts will be to directly threaten road safety and could cost lives throughout Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Roads Service workers will be impacted through likely reductions in staff, work and pay – the union is concerned that the department’s future plans may be to outsource or privatise the service altogether.”

Scott explained that the budget for materials will be restricted to £50 per day per depot, which will mean that work requiring materials will be severely restricted. Workers will then be relegated to performing tasks such as road edging and outlets manual gully emptying, which don’t require materials.

“We understand that there is no budget for the cost of salting roads in the coming winter,” Scott added. “Apparently the department are relying on a reallocation from a future Monitoring Round for this funding.”

Unite is currently discussing its response to Transport NI management.

But Scott warned that the cuts will affect more than just the union’s members, adding that the slashing of services would amount to “an attack on the quality of life for rural communities”.

“They will also impact the survival of businesses which will be forced to absorb the extra costs associated with an inadequate roads infrastructure,” he said.




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