Budget cuts force roads contractor to lay off 11 staff
Eleven people are set to lose their jobs after the Stormont minister reponsible for roads announced budgets cuts – and many more are likely to follow.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has said he has "no option" other than to stop issuing new work to external contractors, who undertake a quarter of his department's work.
The cuts at DRD are a response to a £15m budget shortfall and will affect footway and carriageway repairs, including potholes, road marking and traffic sign maintenance.
Now Belfast contractor MFS, which carries out work emptying gullies, cutting grass and spraying weeds, has said that 11 employees will be made redundant in the aftermath of the announcement.
The company has a £1m contract with DRD and has been carrying out the work for two decades.
Aidan Flynn from MFS told the BBC that "11 direct staff will be laid off" while other subcontractors may have to lay off 30 other staff.
A DRD spokesperson said: "Unfortunately, this serves to demonstrate what DRD Minister Danny Kennedy has warned about. The impact of the budget shortfall will have a detrimental impact on the lives of people."
Meanwhile, the Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) has warned that dozens of skilled road marking jobs will be lost over the next four weeks, followed by the closure of over half of the major road marking contractors in the province within two months.
RSMA director George Lee said that lives could be put at risk as a result. "We understand that road marking maintenance works have been suspended and that means, in simple terms, that roads will be less safe and drivers exposed to more risk," he said. "It is clear that this situation needs to be resolved quickly as we have lives and jobs being put at risk."
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The Department for Regional Development is facing a £15m cut to its budget.
It prompted minister Danny Kennedy to warn that tens of thousands of street lights could be out across Northern Ireland over the winter due to the cuts.
Mr Kennedy also said he has had to stop approving some new work for road maintenance, grass cutting and gully emptying.