Wednesday, 20 January 2010

No money for road repairs.

Have you seen the state of the roads? Ever since last year’s biblical floods, and the mini ice age that gripped us as we saw in the New Year, they are like something from the Somme. There are potholes deep enough to swallow a whole party of spelologists, never mind banjax your tyres/wheels/suspension/spine.

Not very encouraging then to hear, in a country with woeful – or none in some places - public transport, that no extra money is being allotted for necessary road repairs.

I say necessary, as they are. Such roads not only represent a danger to your vehicle’s integrity, but also to your life – and this applies particularly to those on two wheels, whose stability and safety can be severely compromised by even minor surface imperfections.

It’s particularly galling when you consider how much we pay for road tax in Ireland compared with our nearest neighbour. In the UK, a road tax disk will set you back £405 at the very most, while vehicles in the lowest band are exempt. In Ireland you’ll still pay €104 for the humblest of runabouts, right up to €2,100 at the other end of the range.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we pay way more for our cars in the shape of excise duty – also known as Vehicle Registration Tax – in some cases nearly twice as much as UK motorists. In addition to all of this, we also pay road tolls. Which prompts the question, where do our motoring related taxes go?

Surely if this Government and our local councils can waste money on countless frivolous projects (lots on this topic elsewhere on the blog), they can at least honour the vast sums they extract from motorists with safe roads. But the truth is, motor tax is not ring-fenced, it can go anywhere. Motorists who live in isolated areas, who are dependent on their own transport, will increasingly experience this in the years ahead.

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

A few months ago I was visiting my partner’s relatives in Cavan. The car had been rented at Dublin Airport. The main road from Dublin was just fine. The trouble began when we entered the roads of Cavan and Monaghan. Some of them were bloody dangerous.

One evening whilst travelling a country road we heard a fierce bang and felt jolting and vibrations, and the car came to a standstill. What happened was we had hit a big hole in the road. We calculated using a magazine for reference that the hole was about 14 ins. X 10 ins. X 6ins. It was clear that the suspension was broken.

The road side car recovery service was speedy and excellent and we were soon sorted out. I am not Irish and I felt quite indignant that such a lethal hole had not been repaired and I decided to complain. I went to the council offices to state my case. I was met with friendly nonchalance; the gentleman kept using the phrase “sure I know what you’re going to say”, and he was in total agreement with my plight. I was still incensed and I insisted on speaking to a counsellor and I gave him the details of where I was staying.

That same evening a gentleman turned up at our rented cottage, He said that he was a TD (like an MP). He brought a bunch of flowers for my partner and he had a bottle of “Paddy” Irish Whiskey with him. This was about 7pm. We got through the “Paddy” and a half bottle of “Glenlivet”. We talked about WB Yeats and Maud Gonne and Kathleen Mavoureen, Bram Stoker and fishing in Whitby. We talked about Conor Cruise O’Brien and every other subject under the sun. He left at 1:30 am after ringing for a lift. After he had gone my partner said: “You didn’t even mention the hole in the road”. It was then, I began to understand Ireland.

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for the comment. If I got an bottle of Paddy for every pothole I hit, or nearly hit, I'd be a full-blown alcoholic by now..

Anonymous said...

IT IS FAR FROM FUNNY!!!

How long you suppose it took a hole of those dimensions to form. It is lucky that the person did not sustain any injuries, so it is not quite so funny. Fine that you had a hired car that was fully covered by insurance. It is not very amusing for us poor mugs who have to put up with this all the time. The TD probably didn’t live too far away from your cottage and he has pulled of a slick PR exercise with a foreign visitor, very clever. The truth is he did to you what he does to us; and completely ignores our problems. The roads in Ireland are a bloody disgrace and nobody cares.

Lew said...

That story reminds me of a couple of TD's I knew when I was living there.
They would have done the exact same thing.

I'm wondering though what the legal situation with potholes is?
Did you lose any money through it, ie did the car hire company say you were responsible so you pay for the repairs or fine you anything?

If a normal person drives through one, can they claim off the council for damages done by the pothole?

Surely councils have a responsibility to fix/repair potholes when reported to them, otherwise wouldnt they actually be liable for any damages? not sure how it all works over there these days.

On a different subject, been told to ask by the other half when's the best time of the year to catch salmon, and any river in particular that's good for catching them? (please nowhere you have to pay to fish like that spot in Galway)

Anonymous said...

How true, Ireland is far removed from the ideas of Father Ted or Ballikissangel. The TD wanted you to think that Ireland was a “Grand Place”. I bet he did not pay anyone for the whiskey and it was probably a Friday night and he needed to get away from his wife’s wrath. God knows what story he hold her. He did not offer an apology, or offer any means of redress for your inconvenience and the fear that road accidents cause. You were lucky that the roadside assistance and towing service was so speedy and efficient. There are many in Ireland who can tell a different story to that. It could have been raining and you could have had young children with you etc. No Sir ! Ireland is not the way you have depicted it. As for you getting to know Ireland; how bloody stupid; I have lived here for 71 years and I don’t know it, nor have I met anyone else who does, so how the hell can you claim to know Ireland. The politicians, just like your TD are self seeking shit-bags. The money for the road repairs was probably in his bank, in Bermuda!!

Anonymous said...

jasus that looks like a swimming pool GM what a totally awsome little nation,the geneva based society forthe preservation of pot holes aka potty-heads predict that by april irl will be the premier destination for pottys currently its chad and yemen,pottyheads are avery discerning and wellheeled ideal tourists for like minded irish, time to invest in a 7 star htel near some potholes

Anonymous said...

When the Government tarmacked the minor roads in the 1950's, they just spread a layer of tarmack over the existing road without laying any extra hardcore.

People like me who had worked on the M1 in the UK knew bloody well that this job was banjaxed from the word go, and we were right.

Any building engineer knows the importance of laying road foundations.I was only a labourer. Anyone over the age of 65 will remember very well that they did the job on the cheap. I suppose like now, the money had run out.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Ireland, it has had a long slog of poverty. It is so easy to find fault and blame everyone else. When the roads were tarmacked in the 1950’s the traffic in the main was cars and Massy- Ferguson tractors and trailers. It could not have been foreseen that tractors and other farm machinery would become so monstrous in size and the damage they would cause the roads. I do not blame the farmers, it is an engineering fact that that heavy vehicles destroy the roads. Yes, the farmers and landowners should pay higher tax to keep the roads safe.

Anonymous said...

Ireland is wonderful. I remember the journey from Dublin to Sligo thirty years ago. It was a frigging nightmare. Now it is a safe and pleasant journey. So cheer up and he happy. Old Ireland is OK. I would like to cheer you up with a joke:
Alistair Campbell asked George W Bush if he would sponsor him in a marathon for leukaemia. Hell, Yes! said Bush “I do not know exactly where Leukaemia is, but anything to help those post soviet states”.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Mr BH. Yes, if I was a fisherman I might cast into the pothole and see what might come out.

@ Lew. Can't help you there mate, know nothing about fishing, I'm afraid.

@ Anon. Re road foundations - it's a bit like the M50. When they were building it junctions were achieved via the medium of roundabouts (something most Irish drivers don't know how to use, despite their proliferation). Now they have to tear them out, as they were clogging up traffic in all directions, in order to construct proper merging junctions.

Geoff said...

There is in fact no such thing as 'road tax', i.e. a tax that gets spent on maintaining our roads. It's just 'motor tax' and gets thrown on the pile to pay for useful things like e-voting machines and NAMA.

Hit a huge hole in Terenure last week and dented my front bike wheel. Very annoying!

Ella said...

Hi GM, I heard on the Matt Cooper show last week that SOME, not all councils have a small fund for paying out to people to cover a new wheel if they can prove it was damaged in a pothole. I personally know somebody who successfully got the cost of a new wheel which was damaged on the Trim road a couple of years ago from Meath Co. Council, due to potholes.

Anonymous said...

My father was driving his old Renault on a dark remote country road in NI, and suddenly hit a manhole cover at side of rd- this was not flush with road surface – but protruded several inches. Damage occurred, can’t remember (this was 30 yrs ago) maybe a large tear in metal. My father was never litigious- but conscientious. He wrote to council/ Roads service..etc to tell them of this hazard…don’t think he asked for money, not his nature. Within weeks he got a CHQ for a small amt, probably £20 and the cover was promptly tarmacked back into place. Maybe a small difference in attitude is responsible for this prompt response- he didn’t ask for money, let alone £50,000 for damaged nerves, and irreparable damage for his new Lamborghi, (essential for his small farm business). I guess councils here find it hard to admit culpability because of huge claims, therefore even less money available for the road repairs fund..and I am NOT saying people don’t deserve to get damages- of course they do. And people wouldn’t even HAVE cars damaged – if enough money was allocated to road upgrades in the first place. The writer who had huge damage to a car in Cavan, deserved a lot more than a drink with a TD. Ordinary people here can have their rightful claims for damages to their cars inflated by scumbag lawyers- don’t forget this is the 2nd most litigious society in earth. And yes people do not complain enough about these- even in rich Dun L one square had gaping pot holes for years. On a city street- with surrounding houses worth huge sums.
And vast claims for personal injuries in car accidents drive up insurance premiums a huge amount as well. Anna

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Geoff. Yes, you are right. Motor tax is not ring-fenced and can be spent/wasted on anything.

@ Ella. Interesting, I didn't know that. Thanks.

@ Anna. Yes, the compo-claim culture is a major blight on Irish life, with some (within and without the legal profession) making a career out of it.

sdebhal said...

Road accidents are caused by many things, stupidity, criminal negligence, drink, bad roads etc;. The easiest one of those to fix is our terrible potholed roads. All it needs is money and the will to do it. As motorists we are providing the money in large amounts which then seems to be allocated to everything except roads. In any well run business you would expect to get what you paid for, but not it seems when it comes to the business of government. They can rob us blind and get away with it. I see there has been 20 million allocated to build new council offices in Roscommon and I hope they will be very comfortable looking out at the "wonderful" roads the are responsible for. There is a new website trying to address some of the problem. Its called www.potholes.ie and it needs people to report potholes all over the country. It has a league table of potholes which Tipperary seems to be winning at the moment, a very dubious honour to be sure. Everybody should join and report potholes and lets see if we can name and shame councils.
Sdebhal

Stephen said...

Oh, roads that are not properly constructed and maintained have always been a major issue, even in the past. We have the same question: Where do our taxes go? Now you have sub-par roads that will even put you in danger! Whoa, how about that? That's bad!

Stephen Schaunt