Larne tourists will be grassed off by ‘eyesore’

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Visitors entering Northern Ireland through Larne are being greeted by an “overgrown eyesore” along the A8, it has been claimed.

As part of swingeing cutbacks in the budget, the Department of Regional Development (DRD) has previously warned that routine services such as grass cutting would be affected.

But a Larne resident contacted the Times this week to air his concerns over the current condition of the grass on the central reservation and verges along parts of the A8, particularly between Antiville roundabout and the new roundabout at Shane’s Hill Road.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “I fully understand that there is a massive shortfall in the budget and that all Departments are being forced to tighten their belts.

“But the Port of Larne is one of the main entry points into Northern Ireland, and therefore one of the first things people see when they arrive in the country and drive down the A8 to Belfast is this unsightly mess.

“I believe DRD should be taking take steps to maintain the area so it does not become even more of an eyesore.”

The Times put this to the Department, and a spokesman confirmed that grass cutting was to be carried out in the affected area within the next month.

He added: “Transport NI appreciate fully the importance of the A8 Belfast Road in terms of first impressions. However current budget pressure has created an immediate impact on the delivery of routine maintenance services such as grass cutting and weed spraying.

“It is a matter of public record that Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has had no option other than to agree a skeleton service at some financial risk to the Department.

“This skeleton service covers grass verges and other areas which will be cut once, in all locations, between April and October with sight lines at bends and junctions being cut more frequently dependent on direct labour and machinery availability.

“Working on the dual carriageway from the Harbour to Kilwaughter requires extensive temporary traffic management, which is currently being planned with the intention to complete grass cutting within the next four weeks.”