TUV Party Leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister says Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd is a 'Minister with wrong priorities' after he slashed the road maintenance budget but increased cycle path spend.
In a statement issued on Monday (10 October) Mr Allister highlighted that funds allocated for roads maintenance in the Northern Division by the Department for Infrastructure, led by Mr O'Dowd, were halved from £30m in 2021/22 to £15m for 2022/23.
Meanwhile budget for cycle paths was increased by 17% in the same period with £1.9m alone being set aside for a cycle path on the Coleraine Ring Road.
The North Antrim MLA said:
“Through Assembly Questions I have established that in Northern Division the Infrastructure Minster has halved the road maintenance budget for this year, 2022/23, while increasing the active travel budget for cycle path expenditure.
“The road maintenance budget last year in Northern Division (2021/22) was £30m, but this year the minister has only allocated £15m.
"At the same time he has, however, increased the cycle path budget by over 17%, with a staggering £1.9m being spent on providing a cycle path on the Coleraine Ring Road!
“With our continuing pothole crisis and the unacceptable state of many of our roads, to me this is a minister with the wrong priorities. Why is the road maintenance budget being reduced but the luxury of cycle lanes being prioritised?
“If this is how devolved ministers mis-prioritise spending, then, little wonder some of us question the value of a £50m pa Stormont.”