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Lives 'put at risk over road cuts', says Danny Kennedy

By Noel McAdam

Published 08/06/2015

Delays: Danny Kennedy
Delays: Danny Kennedy

Lives are at risk as a result of Stormont's financial chaos, a DUP MLA has claimed.

It comes after Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy admitted the repair of potholes, grass cutting and street lighting were at only "skeleton" levels.

Road verges, roundabouts and other junctions are being left to grow wild - affecting motorists' sight-lines in some areas - because rural grass-cutting has been reduced to one cut a year.

Now the minister is seeking £21m just to maintain roads services - including weeding and gully cleaning - at a minimum.

But a motion before the Assembly tomorrow says the committee which monitors his department has lost confidence in how the minister is managing his budget.

The committee has long been concerned that Mr Kennedy is over-reliant on injections from the quarterly spending rounds when unspent cash is redistributed.

But Mr Kennedy claimed there was "more than a whiff of party politics" since DUP and Sinn Fein ministers of other departments had not been called to account.

Mr Kennedy has also been summoned to appear before the committee on Wednesday, where he will be asked to outline his financial strategy.

DUP MLA Stephen Moutray said: "There are areas and pockets of land that are being left to grow wild as a result of the directive of the minister that no external contractors are to be used on routine maintainance. This has led to a situation where the health and safety of pedestrians and motorists is being impacted, with the potential for a serious accident."

The Upper Bann MLA said the five annual grass cuts in urban areas had been slashed to two and rural areas, which were cut twice a year, only get one a year "if budgets permit.

"It is vital that action is taken before something serious happens as a result of sight lines and visual restrictions," he added.

Mr Kennedy's department told the Belfast Telegraph: "(We are) currently delivering a skeleton service in respect of roads maintenance designed to mitigate public safety risks."

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