'Chronic under investment' blamed as almost 2,000 potholes were reported from Mid Ulster district last year

A chronic under investment in the Roads Service is being blamed for a “huge increase” in potholes in Mid Ulster and across Northern Ireland.
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Government statistics show that in the Mid Ulster area a total of 1,683 potholes were reported in the north and south of the district.

The statistics also show that the department was contacted about potholes more than 25,000 last year.

Unite the Union say the statistics reveal that potholes reported by members of the public have increased year on year over the last eight years.

Unite the UK’s leading union has blamed a huge increase in potholes in Northern Ireland on chronic under investment in the Roads Service. Photo credit Danny Lawson/PA WireUnite the UK’s leading union has blamed a huge increase in potholes in Northern Ireland on chronic under investment in the Roads Service. Photo credit Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Unite the UK’s leading union has blamed a huge increase in potholes in Northern Ireland on chronic under investment in the Roads Service. Photo credit Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The union's members working in the Roads Service are currently in dispute in pursuit of a pay increase. Roads service workers took a week of strike action over pay last week.

Employers’ imposed a pay increase worth between 1.65 and 2.3 per cent in 2022-2023 and are still to commence negotiations for the 2023-2024 financial year.

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “A huge increase in the number of potholes exposes the extent and impact of the long-term underfunding of roads maintenance. Roads workers have been left with no alternative but to take industrial action due to chronic low rates of pay.”

“Underinvestment is putting people at risk and subjecting Unite members to pay poverty. There must be no further delay in proper investment in Northern Ireland’s roads service.”

Regional officer Gareth Scott said: “The staffing crisis which has resulted from low pay, leaves fewer workers to maintain roads which are being exposed to more extreme weather events and heavier and heavier vehicles. The current situation is entirely unsustainable.”

A Departmental spokesperson said: “The Department has been operating in a challenging budgetary position for some time and this has had an impact on road maintenance activities and the overall condition of the road network. In compliance with Departmental policy, only the highest priority defects are currently being repaired and unfortunately some defects will not be repaired until they meet the required intervention level.

"The estimated value of the shortfall in funding between what was needed to maintain the network and what was actually available to be spent between 2014 and 2023 is approximately £920m; it is readily apparent the difference in quality that should be expected when such a significant shortfall in maintenance spending occurs.”