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Local Improvement Schemes completely oversubscribed for at least two years

Community groups in County Galway who held out hope that funding would be provided to improve their local roads have been told that they cannot apply for another two years at least.

Applications under the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) are at saturation level – so much so that Galway County Council is not accepting anymore until 2025 at the earliest.

The Local Improvement Scheme provides funding to help local authorities carry out improvement works on private and non-publicly maintained roads.

But Director of Services Derek Pender told a meeting of Galway County Council while that they have received funding to the tune of €954,000 but this has allowed them to facilitate just 21 projects for which offers have gone out.

However, he pointed out that this meant that 116 further applicants from local groups would not be considered during 2023 and this was why the Council was refusing to accept any fresh applications for the time being.

Mr Pender did say that a fund had been ring-fenced for the off-shore islands and at least one project would be carried out on each of them during the year.

The decision to refuse any further applications has infuriated the elected members of the local authority who made the argument that if local and unfunded roads were allowed to deteriorate any further, the costs would escalate.

According to Cllr Michael Connolly in Moylough, there was a multitude of schemes in the North Galway area that needed funding before they got “out of hand”.

“The funding allocated under the LIS scheme is miniscule when one considers the amount of applicants that there are and the number that want to get onto the list.

“By not taking on any new applicants is not the way to address this crisis and this decision should be reversed – even if it was to give communities some hope that their situation was being addressed,” said Cllr Connolly.

He said that rural roads were deteriorating rapidly and to get them back to any reasonable state would cost more in the long run if they were being ignored at the moment.

His colleague Cllr Martina Kinane (FF) said that the funding for LIS schemes was welcome but she urged the Council not to close applications.

“It is important for local communities to at least get on a list and maybe the extent of this list might indicate to the Department of Rural Affairs the extent of the need for additional funding,” said Cllr Kinane.

In response, Mr Pender said that they were not refusing applications but it would take until 2027 to clear the current volume of applications. He explained that this was why they were closing applications until 2025 before taking on fresh ones.

Cllr Declan Kelly (Ind) said that these were vital schemes that kept rural roads intact. He asked what the Galway Oireachtas members were doing to ensure that the county got the funding it required to clear the backlog of applicants.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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