Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Road Grants.

2.

asked the Minister for the Environment if he considers the amount of money allocated to County Kildare for the maintenance of main and county roads, by way of block grants is sufficient to meet the requirements of that county, having regard to allocations made to other counties and in particular the volume of vehicular traffic on main and county roads in Kildare, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

3.

asked the Minister for the Environment the amount of money allocated per mile of road to each county by way of block grants, in 1981, 1982 and 1983 with reference to maintenance on main and county roads and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 and 3 together.

Information on allocations to each county by way of block grants per kilometre in 1981, 1982 and 1983, is set out in a tabular statement which I am circulating in the Official Report.

I presume that the Deputy has in mind block grant allocations to county councils. Ninety-nine per cent of regional and county roads are located in county health districts.

The block grant allows county councils a wide discretion in the determination of their annual programmes of works on regional and county roads. This grant system was introduced in the period 1973 to 1975 and replaced four separate grants. Initially, it was related to the total cost of those grants which in turn had been determined,inter alia, by the open-ended discretionary expenditure of councils on the maintenance of regional roads. Since 1975 the relative amounts of the block grants to individual counties have been adjusted gradually in an effort to relate them more closely to the maintenance and improvement needs of the regional road network.

The overall amount available for block grants in any one year is determined by the total Exchequer provision for road works. The overall road grant allocation to Kildare County Council since 1981, including the allocation for the Naas by-pass, has been reasonable relative to other areas.

The block grant to county councils is a supplement to the provision made from the council's own resources for the improvement, maintenance and management of regional roads, for improvement works on county roads, and for traffic management measures on national roads. The cost of the maintenance of county roads must be met solely from the council's own resources.

In recent years, in addition to the block grant, special grants have been provided for strengthening works on regional roads. New grant commitments notified in 1984 to Kildare County Council for such works total £450,000. The works involved would otherwise have to be financed from the council's own resources, supplemented by the block grant.

The figures given in the tabular statement are not strictly comparable because of the wide variation, as between county council areas, in the proportion of regional roads in the combined regional/county road network.

Following is the statement:

Block Grant Allocations per Kilometre of Regional and County Roads.

1981

1982

1983

£

£

£

Carlow

88.64

88.64

120.96

Cavan

208.01

215.48

223.37

Clare

184.72

191.36

202.64

Cork

93.37

94.65

107.34

Donegal

192.21

199.13

206.34

Dublin

405.31

485.31

524.70

Galway

116.82

121.03

134.17

Kerry

130.35

135.04

160.41

Kildare

145.62

145.62

157.62

Kilkenny

82.15

82.15

94.51

Laois

113.71

113.71

123.27

Leitrim

202.12

209.41

217.35

Limerick

98.73

99.72

113.55

Longford

142.95

148.08

156.63

Louth

125.45

125.45

136.28

Mayo

163.48

169.35

171.73

Meath

113.21

113.21

122.51

Monaghan

166.38

172.34

178.91

Offaly

115.36

115.36

125.07

Roscommon

123.43

127.85

135.45

Sligo

155.37

160.95

166.94

Tipperary NR

87.65

87.65

100.90

Tipperary SR

136.58

136.58

147.66

Waterford

132.26

132.26

142.97

Westmeath

118.57

118.57

124.62

Wexford

122.02

122.02

131.81

Wicklow

165.17

165.17

173.64

Will the Minister indicate, as Question No. 2 sought to establish, whether Kildare County Council are getting sufficient grants to meet their requirements having regard to the heavy volume of vehicular traffic through the county? The Minister has referred to a tabular statement but, unfortunately, I do not have that information in my possession. Will the Minister tell the House if it is his view that Kildare County Council have sufficient funds to meet this road maintanance programme having regard to the extraordinary volume of vehicular traffic due mainly to the geographical location of the county in relation to Dublin?

We recognise the type of traffic Kildare County Council have to deal with. That is why they got, with their block grant, £450,000. That money was allocated to enable the council to strengthen the regional roads. We gave that money because we recognised that the system of block grants was not necessarily applicable to Kildare and because of the high volume of traffic through the county. We believe the money allocated is sufficient to meet the needs of the county, if one can ever supply sufficient funds to meet the needs of any county council.

Will the Minister accept that the funds, from whatever source, that have been made available up to now, from our own resources within the county and from the State, have proved to be completely insufficient to bring the roads in the county up to the required standard? Will the Minister of State assure us that if we embark on a programme to improve our roads the next allocation will reflect the Government's concern that roads in Kildare should be brought up to a standard because of the huge volume of traffic they take from all other parts of the country?

I believe we have met the case in regard to regional roads in the county because over and above the block grant which normally applies to such roads we have given almost £500,000. That is a recognition of the problem that exists in Kildare.