Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has criticised Irish Water for its failure to notify people living in the Bay Estate area of impending road closures and works.
Cllr Ó Murchú said,
“I welcome the fact that Irish Water will be carrying out necessary upgrade works to the sewer network in Bay Estate, however, it is unacceptable that people living in the area were not properly informed of the necessary road closures to complete the works.
“This is a major scheme which will see the Hazelwood Avenue junction with the N52 closed for a ten week period, right up until Christmas. This is to happen during the 14 week period from Wednesday 19th September to 21st December.
“I raised the issue with officers of Louth County Council at Tuesday’s meeting of the Dundalk Municipal Council meeting, held in the Heritage Centre in Carlingford. Councillors were told that, while the Council is responsible for closing the road, it is the responsibility of Irish Water to provide the information to the public in a timely fashion. We were informed that the council would communicate this general dissatisfaction to Irish Water.
“There were also complaints about upgrade works that were carried out over the summer with little or no prior notice to elected reps or the public and other communication difficulties.
“Irish Water has failed in its duty and I have contacted the company today to raise these matters with them directly and to request prior notice for any major schemes across Louth in the future.
“I have also requested additional information in relation to the works and road closures planned for Bay Estate and will keep residents informed as I get it.”
At this month’s Drogheda Borough Council meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood raised the issue of the number of street lights that were out of order.
Cllr. Flood said “As I go about my business in Drogheda, be it on the school run or just going to the shops I always note out of order street lights and report them to Airtricity to repair. They have an online street map facility where you can see the exact streetlight that you are reporting and you just click on it. Airtricity are contractually obliged to repair the streetlight within 10 working days and up to now, I had always found them to be quick and efficient in their repairs.
But the reason Cllr Flood was raising the issue at the Council meeting was that he “noticed that street lights I reported as out in January had not been repaired within the usual ten day time frame. I contacted Airtricity directly to query this and was told that there was a nationwide shortage of a particular type of bulb and that they had made Louth County Council aware of this late last year.”
Councillor Flood asked for clarification on this matter at the Council meeting and the Council confirmed to him that they had indeed been briefed along these lines and informed Cllr Flood that Airtricity are actually phasing out this particular type of bulb over the next two years.
Cllr Flood said “This means that Louth County Council will have to go to the expense of replacing certain lamps with newer, more efficient LED Lamps. Both Louth County Council and Airtricity officials have assured me that no light will be left unrepaired and that it should happen in the usual ten day time frame. However, this is a transitional period and unfortunately I have already seen lights being left unrepaired for much longer than the usual time frame. I have followed up on any I have noticed, to have them repaired.”
The Sinn Féin Councillor urged any member of the public who notices a streetlight out and feels it needs attention, “please contact us so we can chase it up with the relevant authorities”.
The website for reporting out of order street lights is: www.airtricitysolutions.com
In conclusion Cllr. Flood said “Public representatives should have been briefed on this when Airtricity contacted the council last year. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to leave us in the dark about this transition but it shouldn’t happen again.”
With the increase of road works being carried out around the town lately, Sinn Féin Councillor Edel Corrigan asked the question “is there a monitoring process in place whereby our local authority inspects the standard of work being carried out by these contractors?”
Cllr Corrigan was speaking at the Dundalk Municipal Council meeting this week and commented on “the surge of underground works taking place by Irish Water, facilities, networks and service contractors. While I appreciate the work has to be done, lately it just seems to be a lot of streets or roads are being dug up, along with footpaths to the inconvenience of businesses, traffic and pedestrians alike. I would like to ask how road openings are monitored to ensure safe, secure traffic management systems to facilitate access by people in the area.”
After consultation with several residents Cllr Corrigan said “We need better communication with residents and businesses before their services are disrupted or disconnected for a time. The notice given is inadequate and putting it out on radio or social media doesn’t always reach the people affected.”
“I want to know what measures are in place to ensure, when all works are all finished, that the roads and footpaths will be returned to an acceptable condition. We have many community areas where residents invested money, time and effort in improving their environment only to find that planters and flowerbeds were destroyed following these works and footpaths were left unassailable. In one area residents were left distressed finding exposed live cables.”
Louth County Council Operations Department advised that any concerns or complaints arising from the ongoing road works can be made to Louth County Council who will investigate.
Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has hit out at the lack of communication from Irish Water to thousands of residents who found themselves without water on Monday.
Flood said “After talking to residents I learned this can happen on average four times a year. The problem appears to be the watermain on the North Quay in Drogheda. When it bursts thousands of residents are affected from Greenhills, Termonfeckin Road, Newtownstalaban, Queensborough and Beaulieu. Several residents are also reporting air-locks in their water systems which will require a plumber to fix them, at considerable expense to themselves.”
An Angry Kenneth Flood continued “what I don’t understand is why it keeps happening. What quality of parts are they replacing it with? A patch up job is a false economy, people deserve better than this.”
The Sinn Féin Councillor also questioned the lack of information available. “There was no notice on the Council website until well into the day and there was no notice on the Irish Water website at all that there would be any disruption. When you get up on a Monday morning the last thing on your mind is ‘I must check the website to see if there will be enough water for the day’. This is 21st Century Ireland and there must be better communication with households who are having water charges forced on them by Irish Water. This is poor service and simply isn’t good enough.”