Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

It's not lights out for repairs: roads service

The Government has refuted a claim that street lights would have to be switched off to save money for road repairs.

The Department of Regional Development was responding to a statement from Gordon Best of the Quarry Products Association.

A spokeswoman said: "There is absolutely no risk of street lights being switched off to allow potholes to be repaired, as Mr Best claims.

"Funding made available to Roads Service for maintenance activities this year was less than it has been in recent years, but this followed an all-time high level of spending on road maintenance during the last three years."

The spokeswoman said that Roads Service already carried out regular inspections and condition surveys to ensure the road network is maintained to defined standards and serious road defects are detected and repaired.

She added: "These arrangements, together with the experience and professional judgement of our engineers, ensure that the roads remain safe and do not fall below satisfactory and serviceable levels."

In an open letter to Assembly members, Mr Best had said urgent action needed to be taken to maintain the roads network to acceptable standards.

He said that, in a number of regions, the roads resurfacing budget through to next April would be exhausted by the end of this month.

He had claimed that "in many cases" roads managers were faced with a choice between filling potholes or keeping street lights on.

Mr Best said: "We are calling on the Executive to give roads maintenance the priority it deserves by ring fencing £110m a year for a minimum of three years."

The DRD said that, over the last three years, £788m has been spent on developing and maintaining the road network.