Appeal to Roads Service to get tough on utilities

Newtownabbey Councillor,Thomas Hogg pictured with broken paving slabs at Tulleevin Walk, Rathfern. INNT 20-026-PSB
Newtownabbey Councillor,Thomas Hogg pictured with broken paving slabs at Tulleevin Walk, Rathfern. INNT 20-026-PSB

COUNCILLORS took a swipe at utility companies who tear up the borough’s pavements and roads for work and leave them in a poor “patchwork” state when they leave the area.

At Monday night’s Planning Committee meeting councillors appealed to the Roads Service to take action after residents had to deal with flooding after work in their housing estates.

Councillor Robert Hill highlighted the condition of the Ballyclare Road in Glengormley after NI Water dug it up for its mains rehabilitation work recently.

He told the Roads Service officials: “I am not sure if NI Water has finished the work on the Ballyclare Road, but if it has, the road has not been returned to its original - or even to a satisfactory - state.”

Councillor Thomas Hogg said pavements around the Rathfern estate and King’s Crescent areas have been left in such a poor way after work that residents were having to deal with flooding.

He said: “Most of the pavements around Rathfern are flagstones. They have not been put back the way they were after a utility company carried out work in the area.

“The work is more of a patchwork than what it was and there are now gaps between the flagstones which has led to flooding for many residents.

“If utility companies have to dig up the roads and pavements, then it should be a requirement that they return them to their original state.”

Councillor Ken Robinson urged the Roads service to block companies carrying out work on newly resurfaced roads.

He added: “I am glad to see the resurfacing work carried out on the carriageway at Whiteabbey.

“But I would like to know what restrictions can be put in place to stop utility companies ripping it up, causing added disruption and not returning the road to its original state.”

Road Service officials were attending the meeting to outline their plans for the area for the year ahead.

Bertie Ellision, the divisional roads manager said: “In regards to the Ballyclare Road, that may be a temporary surface while further work is to come.

“Utility companies have an obligation to return the road to the way it was and we do carry out inspections.

“But we do not have the resources to inspect each and every opening and instead look at a sample selections.”

He went on: “In terms of resurfacing work, there is a one-year lock-out of work for any openings and we do consult with all the relevant utility companies ahead of programmed work to try and reduce disruption.

“In Whiteabbey, NI Water is carrying out work to July and then we will move in.”

He added: “But the likes of Phoenix Gas has an obligation to connect customers and they can only do that by opening the roads and pavements.

“They can not refuse a connection request.”