'Postcode lottery to blame' for unrepaired south Armagh potholes
Giant potholes are making roads in south Armagh "redundant", a Sinn Fein councillor has claimed.
Slieve Gullion representative Terry Hearty measured some of the potholes in his area, with some six to seven inches deep.
He told the Armagh I website that the Newry section office of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) was neglecting its duties, with repairs attended to more quickly by the Downpatrick office.
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"In Downpatrick, if a councillor is called up about a dangerous pothole, it's fixed within days - and the roads are far better maintained," Mr Hearty told this newspaper.
"I'm inundated with calls from people complaining about our roads. Last year, there was one area I reported that wasn't responded to for over a month.
"They let the roads get so bad that it ends up costing far more to maintain them. A small pothole becomes a missing part of the road by the time they come.
"It seems to me that they would rather pay the claims than fix the roads. There's definitely a management problem in the Newry section office."
In October, SDLP councillor Thomas O'Hanlon said he felt ratepayers were being "short-changed" in Co Armagh over road repairs, with people in border areas being neglected despite often paying higher rates than people in urban areas.
Responding to the latest complaint, a DfI spokesperson said: "We understand the points councillor Hearty makes and we have met and discussed this with him.
"We have explained that we work consistently across all council areas and we are doing the best that we can in the south Armagh area with the limited resources that we have available.
"It is worth pointing out that a number of improvement schemes are currently planned for the area in the coming weeks and early into the new year.
"Delivery of these schemes will make a positive difference to the road network in the area.
"We do, however, need to be realistic. The department continues to face significant budgetary pressures. This means we have to prioritise work accordingly by identifying those roads most in need of repair right across Northern Ireland.
"This means that the highest-priority defects will continue to be fixed across the entire road network."
In August, it was reported that £850,220 in compensation had been paid out in a year to drivers who had had their vehicle damaged by potholes.
Earlier this year, the Audit Office said it would cost £1.2bn to bring local roads up to standard and that the local road network was operating on £50m less than needed every year.