NI budget cuts could affect basic services

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has warned that the Department for Regional Development (DRD) does not have enough money to carry out basic services like the repair of potholes and traffic lights.

Mr Kennedy (pictured) has had his budget allocation for 2015/16 cut and has to make savings of £60 million.

The Minister said: “I have been working intensively with officials to determine how best to spend the limited resources that are available to me. My Department delivers key water, transport and road services. The population relies on our services 24 hours a day.

“However, I am facing £60m of pressures for next year and the scale of reduction required to meet that cannot be delivered without an impact on core services.”

Mr Kennedy has to move money from roads to NI Water so it is able to meet its basic legal requirements.

He added: “NI Water may still not be able to meet all the public’s expectations of it with its remaining shortfall in its budget which is a result of a massive rates revaluation.

Translink, Northern Ireland’s government-owned public transport company,

will record significant losses this year and next year as a result of reduced government funding.

Mr Kennedy commented: “In the draft budget Translink faced a £15m cut. I have invested additional monies received in the final budget to safeguard the existence of town services. However, even with that there will be the need for Translink to make efficiencies in administration and overhead costs, to reduce the frequency of some services and reduce its workforce accordingly. Translink will be consulting locally on the detail of this.”

But it is TransportNI, which looks after the roads network, which will face the greatest impact to its budget next year.

“As it stands my budget does not provide for sufficient service provision in areas like repair of potholes and traffic lights and other measures such as gully emptying and grass cutting at junctions.

“This is not the level of service I would want to provide to the public.”

Other areas which will be affected include community and rural transport which will have its funding reduced.

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