26/07/2010

Road Tolls 'Not Logical' Says Kennedy

Fianna Fail Minister Michael Kennedy has slammed a recent report from a joint committee, saying it's findings that tolls on national roads should be introduced were "not logical".

The Dublin North TD, who is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, said there are serious questions to be raised around the proposal that national roads should be tolled and the funding channelled into local authorities, saying they would only raise a small amount of revenue.

Mr Kennedy said the €10 million, that tolls are predicted to generate, would be split over 26 counties amounting to €380,000 per county. He said that with the cost of erecting and manning, the tollbooths would be an added burden.

"There is no question that local authorities around the country need consistent streams of funding but the proposal put forward by the Independent Local Government Efficiency Review Group to set up tolls for our national roads is not logical at all,” said Deputy Kennedy.

He added: “I do not believe this proposal can be considered in any way; it would adversely affect communities who do not have alternative options to car travel. I will be raising this issue with my colleague the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey T.D. I also expect that many of the proposals in the report will generate a lot of public discussion in the months ahead.”

The report by the Local Government Efficiency Review Group group last week called for more tolls on national roads as part of a package to save €500 million.

The document contains 106 recommendations totalling €511 million in savings and includes proposals for extra levies on those who do not pay their motor tax online along with the merging of local authority management.

The Minister for the Environment John Gormley is commissioning the report. He is expected to begin implementing some of its recommendations almost immediately.

Under some of the proposals expected to go ahead in the short term are the reduction in the number of county managers from 34 to 24, while ten new administrative areas will serve 20 city and county council areas. It is also proposed that senior and middle management levels be cut by up to 20%.

Social housing rents may also start to be deducted directly from social welfare payments while drivers would see the cost of a ten-year driving licence increase from €25 to €40.

Also being discussed in the report is an increase in devolution of decision making to town councils, including directly elected mayors in other cities and counties.

(DW)


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