Belfast Telegraph

Road resurfacing work to end as Stormont department runs out of money

By Jonathan Bell

Resurfacing of Northern Ireland's roads is to end next month after a Stormont department spent its budget for the work.

The Department for Infrastructure said it has allocated all its £43million road maintenance budget, five months before the end of the financial year.

It means that road resurfacing and surface dressing work will cease in October.

The department said contractors would be affected and stressed vital safety work and pot hole repairs would continue. That is because that work is carried out by Transport NI staff.

The lack of an Executive has been partly blamed, as the department highlighted how in the past its budget has been replenished during in-year financial monitoring rounds where ministers re-allocate funds each department can not spend.

Stormont officials said budgets were tight and "difficult decisions had to be made".

SDLP MLA John Dallat said: "Now after health and education it's roads. What next? This was done before and compensation claims rocketed and the cost of repairs in the future quadrupled."

A Department for Infrastructure spokeswoman said: "A significant programme of work has been delivered early in the year, to maximise both the amount of work which can be carried out in better weather and the enhanced longevity of works if  carried out in better weather.

"The budget for resurfacing and surface dressing work has now been fully allocated and continuing this work beyond October will require additional resources becoming available.

“Structural maintenance activities including pothole repairs/patching along with street lighting repair and grass cutting will continue to be carried out to meet all essential public safety requirements.

“Departmental officials have been liaising closely with industry bodies to keep them apprised of the budgetary outlook and is acutely aware of the impact on the sector.

“The department remains in contact with colleagues in the Department for Finance in an effort to improve the funding position, however there are many competing priorities in the roads, water and transport sector and the current budgetary position means funding is limited and difficult decisions have to be made.”

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