Yesterday in the Assembly there were many questions to the Regional Development Minister in relation to the impacts of custs on services such as street lighting and road maintenance. The Street lighting situation is particularly acute. The Minister revealed that three quarters of the work carried out to repair street lighting faults is carried out by external contractors. He has stopped issuing new work instructions to external contractors.
I queried the Minister about the situation faced by these contractors
“Has the Minister been able to give any assurances about the future to the external contractors who employ thousands of people in road maintenance? In other words, have you just drawn a blank with them? Have you been able to give them any promises of what it might look like in the future?
Mr Kennedy: I regularly meet and speak to representatives of the road building contractors’ organisations. I have an open door policy and have accepted requests to meet a number of their key individuals. I have tried to be open and honest with them about the situation that I find myself in. I have welcomed the support, not least the lobbying, that they have provided to other political parties and Members around the Executive table as to the position that they find themselves in as a consequence of these financial measures.
This is not done by choice or on a whim. It is certainly not done with malice aforethought, but it is the real situation that I find myself in. I must balance my books and therefore have to take these tough decisions. I understand the consequences on the services that I provide and the impact that external contractors will face, with possible lay-offs among staff and everything that goes with that.