Belfast Telegraph

Roads budget cuts threaten 800 jobs

By Linda Stewart

More than 800 jobs look set to go by Good Friday due to cuts to the roads maintenance budget, according to roads workers.

The Quarry Products Association NI (QPANI) is demanding crisis talks with Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy in a bid to reverse the loss of 850 jobs. It will also be making its case to other ministers and the Regional Development Committee.

In line with the Executive budget, funding for maintenance was due to be reduced to £52m for the financial year 2012/13.

However, QPANI said fears within the industry had been alleviated over the past six months with information from sources within DRD indicating that the reduction in budget from the record levels achieved in 2011/12 would not be so severe.

But in a recent answer to an Assembly question, the minister confirmed that funding for road maintenance in the next financial year, beginning in April 2012, would be slashed from £115m to a low of £47.5m.

In terms of work for the road contracting industry this will see a drop in value from £87m to £20m — more than 75%.

QPANI regional director Gordon Best said: "A drop in work of such magnitude will see a significant loss of skilled jobs — possibly between 800 and 900 — for companies who are already facing tough times."

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