Despite getting a very prudent budget drafted and adopted, it was the state of rural roads that got the councillors in a flurry in the council chamber at the Budget meeting just before Christmas.
“The majority of phonecalls I get are because of potholes,” said Cllr Joe Flanagan, in reply to the drop in low cost remedial measures in the roads budget of €266,000.
“I’m tired ringing the county council. Suzanne in the Kilbeggan [area] office must have five or six pages of reported potholes. And another councillor, I won’t say who he was, travelled on a road out my way recently and I won’t say what he nearly made of his car.” Cllr Tom Allen admitted this was him.
“I was the one that went into that pothole on Knockdomney Road,” he said. :It was more like a crater than a pothole and when it’s full of water you can’t see it.”
Cllr Flanagan pointed out that now with the NCT requirements incumbent on all motorists, the damage to a car’s shocks could see someone fail a test and how this had serious safety implications. Cllr Robert Troy wanted to know how much the council paid out in public liability claims due to pothole damage. “I get loads of phonecalls from lads looking for claim forms,” said the Ballynacarrigy representative.
“We don’t pay out for burst tyres as a matter of principle,” said financial officer for the county, Eddie Hynes. However, he was able to tell the gathering there had been 157 claims for road damage submitted to the council in 2009. “Eighty per cent relate to minor damage to vehicles on our roads,” he said. “Cars with alloy wheels and lowered suspensions are the most damaged.” He admitted €13,000 was paid out in 2009 for this sort of damage.
Cathaoirleach Fintan Cooney pointed out that “we have the greatest amount of blacktop road per head of population in Europe and this has to be taken into consideration”.