Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:15 am on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party 11:15 am, 5th May 2020

I thank the Member for his question. He is right: maintenance of the road network is important. The Member will be aware that there were successive years of underinvestment as a result of cuts that were imposed on the Department. In fact, the recent Barton report said that we need to ensure recurring funding of £143 million per annum in order to prevent further deterioration of our roads. I have not been given an allocation that is anywhere near that amount.

I know that the Member is very passionate on doing — not in a derogatory sense — the basic things right, such as street lighting and roads, and the importance of that for communities. I share that passion. The challenge is that we need to maintain existing services, and, where we can, do things in an improved and better way. I do not want the Member to think that I am completely dismissive of the need to maintain the road network. I recognise its importance. However, I also believe that we should have ambition and try to change the way in which we do things. That is why I am also very passionate about the whole active and sustainable travel agenda.