The problem of overgrown hedges on county roads could be alleviated by people on the Live Register being employed to cut them down, according to a local councillor speaking at a meeting this week.
The matter arose after Director of Services for the Belmullet area, Mr Joe Beirne, informed area councillors that funding for hedge cutting is not available.
Councillor Michael Holmes raised the “safety issue” of dealing with the serious growth of hedges around the roads, with some road signs covered. Cllr Michael McNamara said that hedges are scraping the sides of cars and damaging wing mirrors, however, as there will be 20 per cent less funding next year, Mr Beirne said that the “resources are not there”— “We have the capacity, but not the money”.
The director of services said that the local authority is not responsible for roadside hedges if they are on the verge of private land as this is the landowners’ responsibility. However Mr Beirne said that he had recently given a direction to cut back foliage which is covering road signs in the area.
Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh said that the proposal put forward by Eamon Ó Cuív, in relation to getting people on the Live Register to work, could be used in these circumstances and it must “be investigated” how these people can cut the hedges or clear the drains to prevent flooding. Cllr Holmes concurred that “new ideas” to look at how to get such jobs done need to be examined. “There are thousands who want to do something and there are a lot of somethings to be done,” he said. Cllr McNamara said that this is something to be looked at, “and if we have a hedge cutter, that this needs to be used”.
Joe Beirne said that hedge cutting is not labour intensive as a machine does it, however, “if Department of Social Protection have some scheme that we can benefit from” then it will be looked into.