Big Freeze bill expected to top €1.4m

With Leitrim County Council, local businesses and homeowners still counting the cost of December's 'Big Freeze', initial estimates are already predicting that the final bill could top €1.4m.

With Leitrim County Council, local businesses and homeowners still counting the cost of December's 'Big Freeze', initial estimates are already predicting that the final bill could top €1.4m.

With further snow and ice conditions predicted this month and into February, local councillors are calling for the Central Government to put in place funding to help smaller counties such as Leitrim to ensure basic service provision for residents.

Independent councillor, Enda Stenson said counties like Leitrim "don't have the capacity to generate the funds necessary to meet the costs of the recent severe weather conditions".

With a 7 percent cut in the Local Government allocation in 2011 and a cut of at least 10 percent expected to be announced in the county's road's allocation later this month the Local Authority will face enormous pressure to repair roads, water leaks and other infrastructure damaged by the severe snow and ice and the subsequent thaw.

"I know there is an election looming but the Central Government has to put in place funding to help counties like Leitrim keep basic services such as water supplies and road services - the very basics - at the very least," maintained Cllr Stenson.

"This weather has been much worse than the cold and snow that we experienced in early 2010 and the final bill there was well over 700,000 so it would not be premature to estimate that the cost for the weather last December will be at least double that amount."

Cllr Enda Stenson and his council colleagues were unanimous in their praise of Leitrim County Council for the "exceptional work" carried out by staff in "atrocious conditions" over the last few weeks.

To read the full story see this week's Leitrim Observer or subscribe to the e-paper.