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Councillors demand return of LIS funding

Councillors demand return of LIS funding

Anton McNulty

Residents may have to fundraise amongst themselves in order to improve the condition of their access roads after the decision by the government to withdraw Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) funding.
The decision by the Department of Transport to withdraw LIS funding for Councils was heavily criticised by councillors in the Belmullet Electoral Area who called on the government and Minister Michael Ring to reverse the decision.
The councillors used the LIS money to improve roadways leading to people’s homes which were not taken over by the local authority.
There are approximately 168 LIS roads in the Belmullet Electoral Area and councillors have complained that many of the roads will be left unpassable if they are not improved.
Erris based Sinn Féin councillor, Rose Conway-Walsh said that ordinary families were being affected by these cuts and explained she knew of medical personnel who refuse to use certain roads because of their condition.
“Minister Varadkar needs to be told to reverse his decision to abolish the only means of getting these roads repaired. His own Junior Minister, Michael Ring and the other Mayo Government TD’s know all these roads and the people living along them. They are the ordinary rural families who need to be able to get in and out of their homes and access their lands safely.
“The Ard Mor Road in Binghamstown is one such road which is almost impassable. As this is not a Council Road the reinstatement of the LIS Scheme is necessary to provide the funding so that those using the road will not be completely cut off from their homes and lands. Can Minister Varadkar explain how these people and the other hundreds of families in the Belmullet Electoral Area and the wider Mayo area access their homes and lands,” she said.
Achill based Fianna Fáil councillor Micheál McNamara told last week’s electoral area meeting that he knows of eight families who are living on such roads and they have to dodge potholes to get to their home.
“I met eight families recently and I had to edge the car through the potholes to get to their homes. The LIS funding is no longer there are them and I call on Minister Ring to discuss reversing this with his Department. People will have to fundraise themselves to do something with their roads but that could lead to insurance issues,” he said.
The funding for LIS roads has been gradually cut in recent years with Mayo County Council receiving only €600,000 in 2010 compared to up to €2 million in previous years. Independent councillor Michael Holmes said he was in a similar position and explained that people were shocked to hear the funding that stopped.
“You never miss the water until the well runs dry and we will miss [the LIS funding]. I’d say 90 per cent of the people are not aware that they are not available. It was not a big budget but it was a budget which got a lot of use to do little roads and a lot of work was done,” said Cllr Holmes.