— Opposition to projects means limited staff resources get “tied up”.
Local authorities across Ireland spent €80 million less than the walking and cycling funding which was allocated to them for projects in 2022 — a central issue according to sources who spoke to IrishCycle.com was the lack of staff and capacity of consultants to carry out design work.
The 2022 allocation from national Government via the National Transport Authority was just over €382 million and the spending amounted to €301 million.
The underspend has decreased compared to 2021 when it totalled €132 million on active travel projects compared to the €344.5 million, made available.
As IrishCycle.com reported this week, city councils are continuing to struggle to hire staff for the rollout of walking and cycling routes with most of the largest councils only having filled between 40-67% of positions which have been funded by national Government. The staffing position was also more acute last year when the underspend applied.
According to senior council officals, city-based councils have said that they are finding it difficult to hire staff because of a mix of the higher cost of living, consultant engineering and planning firms paying a premium to staff. But even where some councils have tried to use consultants, they have sometimes found that tenders for projects have got no reply.
Among councils with cities in their areas, the breakdown of spending as a percentage of what was allocated was: Fingal County Council at just 53%, Galway City Council at 59%, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council at 63%, Cork City Council at 64%, Limerick City and County Council at 75%, Dublin City Council at 82% and South Dublin County Council at 85%. Waterford City and County Council was an outlier spending 169% of their allocation.
IrishCycle.com has now also submitted a new FOI request looking for a breakdown of what each council was allocated and what funds were drawdown for.
Although city-based councils seem to be experiencing issues with resources, they are not the worst for understanding — according to the NTA data, Galway County Council only spent 34% of what was allocated a number of other spent between around 50-70% of their allocation. See the full table below.
Louise O Donnell, a spokesperson for the Cork Cycling Campaign, said: “Cork Cycling Campaign are disappointed that any amount allocated to active travel goes unspent. There are many areas of the city crying out for cycling and pedestrian facilities as well as engaged community groups like the Cork Cycling Campaign who would be happy to advise on unused funds.”
She added: “Bike counter displays, a contraflow cycle lane on North Main Street and removing remaining kissing gates are just some of the minimally disruptive and inexpensive options for spending remaining funds.”
You're read this much of the article... if you value our journalism, please subscribe today.
Cllr Oisín O’Connor, a councillor for Glencullen-Sandyford in Dublin said: “Projects delayed by political opposition so the money is not spent and projects delayed by lack of staff resources too. Staff get tied up in trying to address the opposition from councillors who are lukewarm in their support of active travel measures.”
“If we expect local authorities to be at the forefront of implementing sustainable transport, there needs to be more than financial support. When some staff members leave, archaic rules mean it takes up to a year to replace them. Before we even get into growing the number of staff working on projects, replacement and retention is an issue,” he said.
Cllr O’Connor also highlighted what he called the “delay of the rollout of national regulations or even guidelines on trialling local active travel improvements”. He said that this has been a “great disappointment and points to a lack of urgency in the Department of Transport.”
He added: “The cumbersome tendering process has also held back progress with almost every project suffering delays in securing contractors to go to construction on key projects.”
A request for comment was made to the National Transport Authority.
|Sponsoring Agency||2022 Allocation||2022 Spend||% of 2022 Allocation||2023 Allocation|
|Dublin City Council||52,810,000||43,181,468||81.7%||59,850,000|
|Cork City Council||46,291,010||29,752,251||64%||34,825,000|
|Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council||38,990,000||24,630,871||63%||24,808,476|
|Fingal County Council||25,535,000||13,608,092||53%||17,110,110|
|Limerick City and County Council||24,390,568||18,322,601||75%||21,000,000|
|Waterford City and County Council||24,010,000||40,588,903||169%||11,000,000|
|Cork County Council||20,456,545||18,477,287||90%||22,175,000|
|South Dublin County Council||18,158,485||15,496,892||85%||22,065,000|
|Galway City Council||15,185,000||8,994,120||59%||12,138,700|
|Meath County Council||13,910,000||13,159,432||94%||14,135,000|
|Kildare County Council||13,670,000||9,707,909||71%||9,965,000|
|Wicklow County Council||9,007,500||7,864,185||87%||8,409,000|
|Galway County Council||7,875,000||2,667,256||34%||3,000,000|
|Tipperary County Council||6,666,601||7,374,513||110%||4,633,000|
|Louth County Council||6,533,361||4,285,635||65%||5,285,000|
|Donegal County Council||5,596,000||4,595,480||82%||4,500,000|
|Clare County Council||5,298,000||3,915,877||74%||4,500,000|
|Mayo County Council||5,027,724||4,444,970||88%||4,500,000|
|Wexford County Council||4,440,000||2,839,650||64%||3,280,298|
|Kerry County Council||4,130,293||1,914,431||46%||2,350,000|
|Westmeath County Council||4,000,000||2,333,465||58%||3,900,000|
|Offaly County Council||3,681,908||1,831,240||50%||3,009,382|
|Cavan County Council||3,371,445||3,505,543||104%||3,500,000|
|Roscommon County Council||3,264,792||1,509,094||46%||2,500,000|
|Sligo County Council||3,020,000||2,002,356||66%||3,000,000|
|Laois County Council||3,000,000||3,137,834||104%||3,300,000|
|Kilkenny County Council||3,000,000||2,907,325||97%||3,120,000|
|Carlow County Council||2,515,000||2,371,361||94%||2,700,000|
|Monaghan County Council||2,500,605||2,587,640||103%||3,000,000|
|Longford County Council||2,382,668||1,098,684||46%||2,500,000|
|Leitrim County Council||2,086,731||1,558,269||75%||2,000,000|
|University College Dublin||990,000||102,511||1,648,489|
|St James Hospital||120,000||118,858||250,000|
|Trinity College Dublin||50,000||122,652||150,000|
|Galway University Hospitals||50,000||50,000||–|
|Dublin City University||50,000||–||200,000|
|Dublin Institute of Technology/TUD||–||–||100,000|