Thoughts on Road Service Failings In The Glens!

IMG_4368Following numerous phone calls to the Elected Reps emergency response line of DRD Road Service over the previous 48 hours and with no positive outcome, I issued a press release highlighting the inability of Road Service to respond in a crisis situation on the evening of Sunday 24th March.
I suggested the government body was penny pinching and were more mindful of budgets than helping those trapped in their homes without electricity, water or essentials including food and heat.
What I had been calling for was for Road Service to task more machinery to Roads were people were completely trapped. I had machinery organised and ready to continue clearing roads. Roads Service refused to task them. 2569868221
Following an interview on Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme, Road Service in a P.R. exercise helped to deflect my criticism by indicating that the plant may not have been suitable or that there may have been problems with insurance. This was utter folly as the contractors were fully insured, working previously for Road Service (something I informed them of and that they seemed to know all to well) and had similar and more advanced plant than some that was already on the ground. But worse was to follow;
Some of my colleagues in Moyle were fit to praise Road Service from the comfort of their armchairs in Ballycastle while not having a clue what was happening on the ground. When people do not know what is happening on the ground, it is essential they do not comment as they only frustrate emergency response situations and allow the likes of DRD Road Service off the hook for their inaction over a crucial 48 hour period. IMG_4380In part the large loss of livestock we are now witnessing is down to the inaction of DRD Road Service in clearing roads and allowing access to the animals.
In finishing I also recognise that many other colleagues were on the ground and played a significant role in helping to gain a response for the community in the Middle Glens area. I also recognise that they found DRD up to the task presented and were happy with the efforts of the body. I can only rely what I witnessed myself in those negotiations and efforts to task more machinery to the Greenans Road, Torr Road, Stroan Road and Ballyvennaght among others. Five diggers lay idle only a short distance away. Snow blowers also lay idle in several locations throughout the North and were never tasked even though the areas they were stored in had no snow whatsoever.
Several employees from DRD Roads Service informed me of this. When I challenged the DRD and asked them to bring them to the Glens they refused. I was put on hold and then asked to speak to a supervisor who seemed more concerned with who in his department had shared the information than actually admitting that they themselves had not, after all, tasked all available resources as had previously been claimed.

Danny Kennedy DRD Minister

Danny Kennedy DRD Minister

A full inquiry is essential should the unique and dreadful conditions ever manifest themselves again so we may learn from the mistakes of the last number of days. I will be calling on Moyle District Council to request a dedicated meeting with DRD Minister Danny Kennedy to give everyone a chance to respond with their concerns on the failings of the emergency operation.

 

Modest Figure for Rescue of Farming Industry!

IMG_4265An Independent Councillor in Moyle has called on DARD to remember that livestock farmers were not the only ones to suffer in the recent bad weather. 


“Potato and vegetable farmers are in line for massive losses and should also be entitled to hardship funding”, claimed Councillor Padraig Mc Shane. 

The Councillor was speaking following the announcement that a proposed rescue package of £5m for farmers whose livelihoods have been badly affected by adverse weather has been agreed on by Stormont ministers.

Potato Farmers Among the Hardest Hit.

Potato Farmers Among the Hardest Hit.


“At this stage it is impossible to quantify the losses to the farming community and five million seems like a modest figure considering the damage inflicted in the last week. Farm buildings along with livestock losses, the cost of disposal as well as additional costs to other farming sectors could run to that figure in the North Antrim area alone. jimmy6

“If farmers are not properly compensated for their losses we could witness entire communities who rely on agriculture going out of business. Several farmers in the last number of days have voiced their concern to me that they feel this is the end”, stated the Independent Councillor.

 

Moyle Summer Schemes Grants Programme Opens

Summer Schemes

Summer Schemes

To see if your group qualifies simply read;

Rural_Summer_Scheme_Grant_Guidance_Notes_2013

To apply download and complete your application here returning it no later than noon on Monday 29th of April 2013 to Sheskburn House;

Rural_Summer_Scheme_Grant_Application_Form_2013

Moyle District Council has opened its Rural Summer Scheme Grant Programme to give financial assistance to community and voluntary groups and youth clubs who wish to run summer schemes in their communities during Summer 2013. Financial support will be available to groups based in the Moyle area, running general community-based summer schemes within their local communities.

Moyle which offer multi-activity programmes for children under the age of 18 and children and adults with special needs.

The Council will continue to run its own summer scheme in Ballycastle while this funding offers groups in the rural community a chance to do likewise.

Closing date for receipt of applications is noon on Monday 29th April 2013.

Should you require further help please feel free to contact me on 07828112129 or alternatively you can contact Council on 02820762225

 

Coolnagoppoge Elderly remain Trapped while TORR Road opens

Elderly Residents remain stranded in Coolnagoppoge. 12 Foot snow drifts have left a part of the road blocked over a short distance. Meanwhile Torr Road is now opened through to Cushendun. The road may only be traversed with extreme caution in a ‘off road’ vehicle or a tractor. We passed through the road this morning at 2am while diggers continue to work on clearing other parts of the road.

DRD Penny Pinching Fails Many in the Glens!!

Ivan Lynn & Son Torr Road

Ivan Lynn & Son Torr Road

The Department of Regional Development and Road Service, according to an Independent Councillor in Moyle, have failed the people of the Glens of Antrim. Padraig Mc Shane said entire communities had been abandoned due to penny pinching.

The Independent Councillor fought ‘running battles’ with Road Service personal in Coleraine in an attempt to task more private contractors to the area.

Ballyvennaght Rd

Ballyvennaght Rd

“I had several local contractors with heavy plant in the vicinity ready to go into action. Both they and I awaited the call to alleviate the very real suffering of people in numerous locations who still remain trapped with out electricity, heat and basic essentials.

“Those contractors did immense work already clearing roads to allow emergency services access to those injured during the crisis.

Greenans Rd Wall of Snow

Greenans Rd Wall of Snow

“Road Service informed me that a decision would not be made to task the contractors until Monday morning at the earliest. I would have thought in an emergency crisis like this we would be tasking all available resources but it seems penny pinching and budgets are a priority over the safety of some of the most vulnerable in our community”.

A clearly frustrated Councillor Mc Shane hit out at both the DRD and DARD Ministers asking “Are they on sabbatical?”

“No one seems capable of making decisions on the ground. Ballyvennaght, Greenans, Fairhead and numerous other areas are yet to get help while the Torr area is only starting to get support today.

“Farmers all over the Glens have received no support.

“I want to commend those who have worked round the clock to help but they have not received the support they deserved.”

Ballyvennaght, Greenans & Torr Roads.

The Greenans has been cleared into a point. After that – a wall of six feet high snow, drifts of that and deeper keep residents trapped. Ballyvennaght Road remains untouched by Road Service while thirty plus families remain without power and basic supplies. Neighbours are looking after the vulnerable. Torr Road is completely cut off also with drifts in excess of twelve feet being dug away at present…….. not by Road Service but NIE who are attempting to get a power supply back to Torr. This is only a few of the many Roads with residents who remain trapped, isolated and in need of supplies.

Marine Hotel Sold

MARINE HOTEL 2Padraig Mc Shane, an Independent councillor in Moyle has stated the long awaited news on the sale of the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle has reached its conclusion. The sale was subsequently confirmed by the selling agent.

Welcoming the news Councillor Mc Shane wished the new owners “Good fortune in the challenges that await them”.

The Councillor said the people of the District would get behind the new business and would be delighted to see the iconic location up and running again.MARINE HOTEL 4

“Moyle District Council will endeavour to help the new owners wherever possible. The Tourist Board plus Invest N.I. must recognise what we are trying to do in the Moyle area and, support with what ever resources are to hand, to reinvent Ballycastle and the Glens as a Holiday Destination”.

Pictures of Carey plus Cushendall Road-Still Closed!

Residents remain trapped in their homes without both heat and power. Essential supplies are running low in some homes that have become completely isolated due to the high snow drifts. This lambing season has been fraught with difficulty and several farmers I spoke to had no idea how their sheep were because they could not gain access to them.
DOE is fighting what seems like a losing battle. As they clear one part of the road, drifting quickly blocks another part. NIE power lines were down in numerous locations I witnessed last night and this morning and there is simply no word of when the supply will be repaired.

Moyle Local Authority Closes During Emergency Crisis

SNOW BALLYCASTLE 11Moyle Independent Councillor, Padraig Mc Shane, has indicted his disappointment at the complete closure of Sheskburn House in Ballycastle after storms closed roads, put out telecommunications systems and Power was unavailable in many parts of the District today.

The Councillor stated,

“I can fully understand why staff were sent home today but I find it incredible that a skeletal compliment of staff was not in place at Sheskburn to deal with emergencies from the public.

“I will be asking for a complete review of today’s failings and will expect a plan in place to accommodate future emergency situations.

” I would like to thank those members of the public who help me deal with several incidents this morning”.