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Roads Resurfacing

Regional Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 am on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Willie Clarke Willie Clarke Sinn Féin 3:00 am, 13th October 2008

2. asked the Minister for Regional Development if there has been a reduction in the Roads Service Southern Division’s budget for roads resurfacing.       (AQO 658/09)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

Since the start of the financial year, there has not been a reduction in my Department’s Roads Service 2008-09 budget of £4·3 million for Roads Service resurfacing activities in the southern division.

Photo of Willie Clarke Willie Clarke Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Will the Minister outline the criteria for the allocation of the roads budget for each region?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

In distributing the resources that are available for road maintenance, allocations are made to the four Roads Service divisions on the basis of need, using a range of weighted indicators that are tailored to each maintenance activity. Divisions use those indicators when apportioning costs across council areas to ensure that there is, as far as possible, an equitable distribution of funds.

Photo of Fred Cobain Fred Cobain UUP

I am glad that Mr Clarke raised the issue. Will the Minister state how often he intends to have trunk roads in Northern Ireland resurfaced?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

There is a policy schedule for the resurfacing of trunk roads. Obviously, if there are particular problems on trunk roads that are creating a danger, those roads would move up the priority list. If the Member, who is the Chairperson of the Committee for Regional Development, so wishes, I will ask the Department to furnish him with the policy schedule for the resurfacing of trunk roads.

Photo of P J Bradley P J Bradley Social Democratic and Labour Party

Coming as I do from the southern division, I understand why Mr Clarke asked that question. People were hopeful that direct rule Ministers’ neglect of rural roads would be dealt with by the Assembly, but that has not been the case. Roads in South Down are in the worst condition that they have ever been in. Does the Minister agree with my assessment of the condition of the roads, and will he state how he proposes to deal with that?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

That depends on how far back in history the Member wants to go; I am not sure whether he is comparing the condition of the roads in South Down with their condition 10 years ago or 100 years ago. I would hazard a guess that they are in better condition now than they were 100 years ago.

My response to the Member is the same as that which I gave to his party colleague a few minutes ago — DRD’s budget was allocated after a Budget debate in which the Member and all other Members had an opportunity to speak. Since the Budget was allocated, I have received requests — particularly from Mr Bradley’s party — for more street lighting and footpaths, 20 mph zones to be created in every residential area, and, now, for a substantial uplift in the money that is spent on rural roads. Perhaps I would be in a better position to deal with some of those issues had I heard those arguments during the Budget debate.