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Councils not in position to take on gritting costs

I note the comments made by Roads Minister Conor Murphy that councils should take over the gritting of the pavements.

Unfortunately, the issue is not as simple as presented by the minister. Such measures would involve a significant commitment of resources by councils before the proposition could be seriously entertained. A few months ago, the Roads Service had presented to Newtownabbey Council a draft agreement. This was rejected partly because it was not properly costed, but also because it placed the responsibility for meeting legal liability claims on the council.

A cynical view might be that councils are being expected to take up these duties and to meet the cost out of already strained budgets to save central government the expense.

I understand from the minister’s statement that there have been discussions between Government and Northern Ireland Local Government Association and that there would be a legal |indemnity available for councils undertaking such work.

This is an interesting and |welcome change of direction. To my knowledge, the proposal he has publicised has not been made to my own council.

When it is, I am sure the |council will look at it seriously.

However, we do not have the |resources of central government and there is a concern that this work is being offloaded to councils without any expectation |of assistance towards the cost.

To expect, as the minister seems to, immediate results on such a complex issue is unrealistic.



ALLIANCE COUNCILLOR

TOM CAMPBELL

Newtownabbey Borough Council

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