County council allocates funds for private roads

More than €211,000 will be spent on private roads and cul-de-sacs in Westmeath as part of a controversial initiative announced earlier this year.

The Community Involvement Scheme invites individuals and communities to put between 20 per cent and 50 per cent towards the cost of road improvements in their area, a notion that angered commentators who were concerned that citizens have to take responsibility for road maintenance.

The scheme allows people living on private cul-de-sacs and lanes to contribute towards getting road improvements done that are not on the council’s agenda because of lack of funds, and the 20 per cent community contribution is matched by the Department of Transport’s 80 per cent funding.

The Westmeath funding covers seven roads in total, including Baltrasna and Curraghbrack near Mullingar , Blockmiles Road at Crookedwood and Griffinstown Road in Kinnegad which received government funding between €6,000 and €76,000.

The work will be done before the end of 2013.

The scheme is closed for this year, with a total of €5m allocated nationally by the Department of Transport to be spent in conjunction with communities and local authorities.

But one Westmeath councillor says families who paid local contributions when they built one-off houses could put that money towards local road improvements if the scheme is rolled out again next year.

Aidan Davitt says at least two of the seven roads to be improved this year will benefit in this way and he assisted locals with applying for the funding.

He told the Advertiser that Westmeath County Council has agreed that local contribution funds could be used to make up the 20 per cent community contribution.

One-off housing contributions ranged from €1,500 to perhaps €4,000, he said.

The money was collected when the houses were built and was ring-fenced for local improvements, but on their own, the funds are not enough to make significant improvements.

For that reason, the contributions were effectively in limbo.

He said he’d proposed the idea at a Mullingar Town Council meeting and then cpunt manager Danny McLoughlin thought it was a good idea to put that money into the Community Involvement Scheme.

“It’s definitely the way forward,” he said, and praised the council executive for getting behind the idea.

He said locals are delighted to see vital improvements take place on particularly bad roads at a time when the council is too strapped for cash to do the work itself.

A council spokesman confirmed that in the region of €211,000 in funding will come to Westmeath to complete several schemes.

He confirmed that the local contribution made for one-off developments was specifically for roads at those specific houses, and is different to the general development levy and that the council welcomes the opportunity to use the local contributions for the Local Improvement Scheme.

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