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Budget 2016-17

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:00 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Declan McAleer Declan McAleer Sinn Féin 5:00 pm, 19th January 2016

Yes, indeed. As part of the wider north-west area, I also recognise those infrastructural developments.

My second topic relates to structural maintenance, to which this Budget allocates £66 million. Indeed, as an MLA who is a member of the Regional Development Committee, I have been heavily lobbied by the QPA, has have many others, about the impact of a reduction in the structural maintenance budget. Whilst the funding allocated is substantially short of the recommendation in the Snaith review, it is nevertheless an uplift of over £10 million from the allocations in 2012-13 and 2013-14. That increases road safety and jobs. Many subcontractors in west Tyrone and other areas are very appreciative of this contribution and the uplift to the structural maintenance budget. Industry experts have told us that reactive patching costs 10 times as much as planned works and does not address the underlying problems, so this investment is very welcome.

In conclusion, within the parameters of the budgetary settlement, we feel that a fair balance has been struck between investing in our existing network and planning the development of the strategic network that is so critical to the economic development and growth of the North. As I stated at the outset, we still have to tease out a number of key issues relating to the new DFI. We will start this tomorrow when the DFI project team comes before the Committee. I take this opportunity to say that, despite the issues that we have to tease out with officials, in the round, we support this Budget.