County roads within a 25km radius of the city are going to get preferential treatment when it comes to the allocation of funding for upgrade and pothole repairs.
Galway county councillors have voted in favour of allocating 10% of any additional roads funding from central Government to roads within 25 kilometres of Galway City.
The existing allocation will be applied on a per-kilometre basis, with any extra monies to be weighted mostly in favour of roads within the Athenry/Oranmore municipal district.
Despite fears that this could lead to a deterioration of roads in the most rural parts of County Galway, the motion put forward by Martina Kinnane (FF) was carried by 18 votes to 15, with one abstention.
The vote will be of most benefit to roads in the Athenry/ Oranmore municipal district, although it will also benefit some roads close to the city that are located in the Connemara and Tuam municipal areas.
Cllr Kinnane put forward the motion, arguing that Athenry/ Oranmore is disadvantaged by the current system in place for allocating roads funding.
Currently road maintenance is allocated on a per kilometre basis with Athenry/Oranmore getting just 9% of the funding compared with the four other municipal districts: Ballinasloe (20%), Connemara (20%), Loughrea (25%) and Tuam (26%).
Cllr Kinnane said “Ballinasloe will be the only area to see a reduction” under her proposal.
She said that in terms of the Local Property Tax, and commercial rates, Athenry/Oranmore was the “cash cow” for the County, and her resolution was about fairness.
Portumna-based Jimmy McClearn (FG) said he couldn’t support a tiered system of allocation of funding. “The people you represent aren’t any more important that the ones I represent,” he said.
He was voted in to try and do the best for every citizen of Galway and he “resented” the notion that one area would get preferential treatment.
Tuam’s Tom McHugh said it was “fair play” to disperse additional funds on a per kilometre basis.
Tomas Ó Curraoin, who is in Barna, said he lives within the 25 kilometre radius, and some of his constituents would benefit from it but he voted against because he couldn’t be treating constituents of his who live further back in Connemara differently.
James Charity (Ind) supported the measure and said that the roads within a 25-kilometre radius of the city were “overloaded with traffic”.
They were the roads that were used the most, by people travelling to the city, including by people from all five municipal districts, and not just the people living in Athenry/Oranmore municipal district.
Des Joyce (Ind) said there was “no way” he could support the move towards a two-tier system.
When the vote was passed, Cllr Kinnane paid tribute to the late Liam Gavin, an engineer who helped her to formulate the motion, and thanked Director of Services for Roads, Michael Timmins.