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Eddies Wither Outside Groomsport




On February 19 the Department of Infrastructure started resurfacing work of the Groomsport Roundabout. This was advertised as requiring six weeks of work. At the time I queried the length of time allocated for this work. Today seven weeks have elapsed and as you can see from these photos (taken yesterday), the work is nowhere near being finished.


This poses a number of questions.


Why are residents putting up with this dismal state of affairs?

The only explanation I can come up with is that they are worn down by the historical absence of a government, allowing civil servants to work unmonitored. Apathy permits nobody being held accountable for poor performance.


Result: a bloated civil service sector that gobbles up precious financial resources.


Why are these roadworks taking so long?

I suspect this is a function of the combination of several factors.


First, the DfI decided to fix something that didn't need fixing in the first place: it installed a 1m wide tarmac strip on the inside of the roundabout. This required removing top soil, replacing not only the original curb but also a new one on the inside, then putting down a layer of gravel onto which then fresh tarmac was placed.


That whole exercise seems rather pointless to me as nobody walks around the inside of a roundabout and the existing set-up with just a single curb was quite sturdy and undamaged and had survived some drunk driver crashing into the central section a couple of years ago just fine.





There were many days when no work was being done on the roundabout at all, probably because of poor scheduling of available resources.


Result: Money wasted, delivery target not met.




Why is the DfI not monitoring the performance of its contractors?

I suspect that is related to a previous point, a lack of accountability. Why rock the boat if nobody evaluates the quality of the job you're doing?


Result: poor quality work (just check your local road) and cost overruns.


Why isn't anyone querying that lack of progress with DfI?

Who is monitoring DfI's performance when it comes to meeting its advertised completion dates for road works? It's not the Minister, it's not the MLAs, it's not the local councillors. Does anyone involved in running this country actually care that stuff gets done on time and on budget?


Result: Let me just leave this table here...


Country

Population (2021 Census)*

Public Sector Employees**

Civl Service %

of Population

UK

66,982,000

5,930,000

8.9%

England

56,536,000

4,697,000

8.3%

Scotland (2022)

5,436,000

599,000

11.0%

Wales

3,105,000

323,000

10.4%

Northern Ireland

1,905,000

226,000

11.9%


Why is Northern Ireland's public sector 50% larger per heads of population than England's? It cannot be all down to economies of scale. I suspect the lack of accountability causes poor productivity and significant cost overruns that contribute to a chronic inability to meet budget constraints.


No wonder Stormont is always short of money.





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