One councillor in the Ballina Municipal District says serious investment is required for Mayo’s footpath network with up to 25 per cent of the footpaths in the county crumbling.
Swinford based Fianna Fail councillor Michael Smyth was speaking at a recent meeting of the Ballina Municipal District and he noted that the 2016 annual report from IPB insurance records the ongoing growth in public liability claims.
Speaking to The Mayo Advertiser, Councillor Smyth said: “IPB, who are the body that insure all the local authorities, have set out the amount of claims that they have and the increase in claims, and generally the claims are associated with the infrastructure that we have, in particular the footpaths. We have undertaken work in Swinford in relation to the footpaths but it needs an awful lot of work. Some of the footpaths are adjoining main roads so those footpaths, such as those on the N26, should be looked after by the TII. We’ve applied for funding for that.”
Councillor Smyth argued that the amount of money being paid out on claims should be invested in the footpath network instead. “Generally in the towns the footpath network is undertaken by Mayo County Council and we do have funding in place for funding annually but again it’s a huge investment and the cost benefit that we would receive if we made that large investment would be significant because insurance claims would go down and the premiums would go down. We’re paying a significant amount of money to IPB for all the claims we have but at the same time we are not investing in infrastructure, so it’s kind of a revolving door and we keep coming back to the same issue that we are not investing in the infrastructure.”
A number of Councillor Smyth’s fellow councillors agreed with his argument and warned about the extent of footpath deterioration around the district. The council’s executive engineer, Orla Bourke, told councillors it would need a budget in the region of €50,000 a year to adequately deal with the problem. To which councillor Smyth says, “We probably need to push that on. Minister Ring made an announcement last week about the LIS funding, which is very welcome as we do need huge investment in local roads, but again that footpath network needs a significant investment in our towns if we’re going to try and alleviate the amount of claims and make it safer for people to walk because we’re encouraging people to walk and to get out there. It is important that we do that of course.”