27/10/2011

SDLP Man Slams Reduced Roads' Funding

An SDLP MLA has expressed his concern after a reduced amount of money will be allocated by to structural roads maintenance after the October Monitoring Round allocations.

West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne was speaking after this week's news that the Northern Ireland Executive had received an extra £22m from the Treasury.

The funds have been spread across departments - with the DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson also redistributed millions of pounds in unspent funds.

This includes £30m from the Department of Enterprise about half of which was not spent by Invest Northern Ireland.

An additional £10m has been allocated towards an affordable housing scheme for first-time buyers that he said this was good news for construction sector.

However, the SDLP's Mr Byrne said: "I am very concerned about the Department of Regional Development's (DRD) conceding of £18.6m and, in particular, £17.1m from reduced spending by Northern Ireland Water.

"I'm gravely disappointed that after the reallocation of these monies, which amounted to £13.1m, only £4m is earmarked for structural roads maintenance.

"Given the gross backlog in roads maintenance I believe that much more should have been put into the priority areas," he said.

The Department of Regional Development has been given around £13m, mostly for road improvements and £3m to maintain concessionary fares.

Meanwhile, the Department of Employment and Learning has received £5m for the Steps to Work programme, although it had sought £9m for this scheme.

(BMcC/GK)

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