Roads Service have been accused of burying their heads in the sand when it comes to potholes.
Financial pressures are growing and figures show that almost half of the budget for road repairs in the Armagh area has been slashed in the last financial year.
In the 2016/2017 the local office had £4.9m to spend on road maintenance and repairs, but in 2017/2018 they had £2.8m allocated for the same work.
And SDLP councillor Thomas O’Hanlon has lambasted the latest response from Transport NI claiming that it equates to them saying “not to look for them in the first place”.
“They are putting their head in the sand over the amount of potholes and the state of rural roads; they are just ignoring the problem,” said councillor O’Hanlon.
“Every day I am passing through complaints on behalf of local constituents and I like many of them get really frustrated at the seemly lack of action.
“When people contact me, I pass though their complaints with photos of the offending pothole and nearly always attach photos to illustrate just how bad the potholes actually are.”
He added: “Recently I asked the Department of Infrastructure to provide me with copies of the inspection reports for a long list of local roads.
“I wanted to see how often roads were inspected and when and I also wanted to find out how many defects were detected on each road.
“It was no surprise when the Department refused to release this information, however, in their response they have admitted that significant financial pressures have resulted in changes to the Department’s roads maintenance standards for safety.
“In other words, they have re-categorised what is a pothole and when it warrants repair. A pothole is no longer classed as a pothole until it is at least four inches deep.
“But it gets worse,” he continued. “You would think with the public uproar about the condition of local roads, there would be a greater effort to identify where the problems are and to try and repair them.
“No! The Department’s response has been the complete opposite. They now inspect roads less frequently.
“Roads which were normally inspected every eight weeks are now only inspected every twelve weeks. Roads which were inspected every four months are now only inspected every six months. This is terrible; they are just burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the problem.”
Councillor O’Hanlon says he keeps track of the roads and has been reporting for repair and the response is, what he describes as “appalling”.
“Potholes I reported before Christmas still haven’t been repaired and to be honest there seems little sign of any action soon,” he said.
“The guys in the section office are equally frustrated, they don’t want to be dealing with complaints all day every day, but they’re being starved of cash and the resources to carry out the repairs.
“Someone needs to get a grip on this issue and I have raised it with the Head of the Civil Service.
“The longer roads are left in the deteriorating condition the more it will cost to carry out the repairs. We need to see dedicated resources allocated to the section office for these urgent repairs carried out.”
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