Council under fire over watermains disruption

The council has apologised for the disruption caused by works connected to the upgrade of the watermains, after councillors complained about the impact the works were having on local residents and business people.

Speaking at Tuesday’s Mullingar Town Council meeting, Cllr Gerry Sheridan said there had been “mayhem” on the town’s streets, with “inadequate signage”, “serious disruption to businesses”, and “stones flying everywhere”, and called on the council to ensure proper procedures are put in place during the works.

Several councillors said they had also heard from business owners and residents who had been given just 15 or 20 minutes notice that their water was to be turned off.

Cllr Ken Glynn said there had been “a lot of anger” over the Easter weekend.

“The work has to be done, and it is welcome work, but a little bit of consultation by the contractor would go a long way,” he added.

The council’s director of services David Hogan accepted that there had been some issues with the works, and apologised for any disruption or inconvenience caused.

“It is a €5 million scheme involving the replacement of a substantial part of the water network in the town and surrounding areas. Once the scheme is finished we will have a water network fit for purpose which will serve the town for the next 40 to 50 years and allow the town to grow.

“I take on board the criticisms about communication - it is not acceptable for a business owner to be given 20 minutes notice,” he said.

However, he pointed out there is a comprehensive management plan in place, and that members of the public had been spotted moving barriers to access footpaths, and ignoring signage directing traffic flow during the works.

Responding to a query from Cllr Sheridan about who was responsible for health and safety during the works, Mr Hogan said it was the responsibility of the contractor, ShareRidge.

“Health and safety is paramount. Westmeath County Council assessed the contractor’s health and safety statement and were happy with it. There are ongoing inspections and discussions regarding health and safety, which can always be improved.

“I can assure you that the contractor is working hard, the hours they are working are unbelievable to try and get through the town centre quickly. The reason works were in Mary Street last week is that schools were off,” he added.

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