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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.
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.
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?
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.