Independent councillor Michael Holmes has called on Mayo County Council to take charge of semi-private access roads across the county which have been affected by the drastic reduction of Local Improvement Scheme (LIS ) funding in recent years. Speaking at a Belmullet Electoral Area meeting last week, Holmes said it was unrealistic and unfair to ask people to pay for the maintenance of certain access roads through their villages and townlands.
“Although these roads are classified as private, there is public right of way access, and some of them see significant amounts of traffic on a daily basis. In previous years, LIS funding was made available for maintenance and repairs, but this has been severely reduced. Residents are now responsible for providing the funding to carry out any repair work. They are already paying property and motor taxes and water charges the same as everybody else. It is highly unfair that they also have to pay out for road repairs,” he said.
Holmes went on to describe the condition of some of these access roads, and the difficulty and danger they pose within communities, saying: “Many are a few years now without any funding. They are in a very bad state of disrepair and in some cases are virtually impassable. Understandably this is causing great difficulty for residents, especially elderly people who need regular medical assistance or home help, young families who have to navigate huge potholes in order to get children to school every day, and farmers trying to gain access to land and livestock.”
He went on to say that he sees the local council taking charge of these roads as the only viable solution: “The LIS Scheme remains a tiny fraction of what it once was. The money currently available doesn’t even come close to resolving the problem out there. The only viable and long term solution is that the council takes these roads ‘in charge’ and is fully responsible for them. I will continue to lobby at local and national level for this.”