Why is north Antrim the ‘poor relation’?, asks Allister

TUV leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister has expressed dismay that in the Northern Division of Roads Service less is being spent now on minor road surface repairs than under Direct Rule, whereas in every other Division there has been an increase in funding.

With potholes and deterioration in rural roads a constant complaint the MLA tabled questions to the Roads Minister to establish the facts on expenditure on roads in the Northern Division which includes Ballymoney and Moyle.

Mr Allister said: “The answer demonstrates that whereas in other areas year on year expenditure has increased, in the northern division it has steadily fallen and is now below the level of spending in the last year of Direct Rule.

“In all other areas there has been at least a 10% increase in spend compared with 5 years ago. I am demanding to know why Northern Division is the poor relation.

“My TUV colleague Cllr Roy Gillespie brought to me concerns about underprovision in the money allocated for minor road surface repairs across Northern Division. When I investigated I was appalled to discover the disparity and whereas everywhere else has seen a rise to meet rising need, we have been subjected to an effective cut, leaving our rural roads in a worse state than ever.

“It doesn’t say much for supposedly caring devolution if in this area Roads Service is now spending less on maintaining our roads and in fixing potholes than was the case under Direct rule.

“It is not that our roads have improved and need less upkeep, far from it, but North Antrim and the wider area covered by northern Division is being short-changed.

“I am now demanding an explanation for this unequal treatment from the Roads minister,” said Mr Allister.