SOUTH Down SDLP Assembly Candidate Eamonn ONeill has spoken out following the publication of figures relating to claims submitted to the Department of Regional Development for damage to vehicles.
Down District Councillor O’Neill said, “In the financial year 2009/2010, the Roads Service Section Office that covers Down District received 119 claims for damage to vehicles – this figure was more than twice that of the previous year. This is alarming and is a clear indication of the under-investment in our rural road network and the overall structural roads maintenance budget.
“When comparing the figures of other section offices across the north of Ireland it is alarming to see the difference – with Castlereagh having only 17 claims compared to Downs 119. It is evident that very minor roads have been overlooked for a number of years and rural dwellers, and their vehicles, are suffering the most.
“These roadways are visibly crumbling under the pressure. We have heard all too many times that weather of recent times was unprecedented however if the roads budget had been receiving adequate funding over the past few years – our roads could have withstood more abuse at the hands of the inclement weather.
“These figures relate to last year so the horrendous period of ice and snow at Christmas have not yet been documented – if vehicle claims increased two fold from 08/09 – 09/10, I fear for the statistics for 10/11. It is time that the Minister with responsibility for roads realised that this under-investment does not pay in the long run – it is simply cutting corners, at the expense of rural dwellers,” he added.