More than €1 million on footpath claims has been paid out by Cork City Council over the past five years, according to correspondence received by a local representative under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The breakdown of figures shows that €773,462 was spent in payouts in 2019; €276,092 was spent in payouts in 2020; €61,313 was spent in payouts in 2021; €95 was spent in payouts in 2022; and there had been no payouts in 2023 as of March 15.
There were 70 claims registered in 2019; 64 claims registered in 2020; 53 claims registered in 2021; 39 claims registered in 2022 and five claims registered in 2023 as of March 15.
Labour Local Area Representative in Cork city Peter Horgan received the correspondence and said: “Over €1 million is a significant sum in anyone’s books and underpins the need to ensure that all our footpaths are in a proper condition. It is noticeable the dropping amount of payout since 2020 but it is unclear whether this is from contested claims or footpath conditions.
“Either way, we need to see footpaths around the city – old side and new side – funded under active travel to be repaired for all users. We especially need to see an accessibility audit undertaken on our footpaths. You have to view the city through more than one set of eyes.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Seán Martin echoed the call for more funding.
“Myself and Terry Shannon have been looking for additional funding for the old footpaths,” he said. “At the moment, there’s funding available for new footpaths but if we’re talking about sustainable travel, I would argue that more people walk on footpaths than cycle or anything else, that’s the reality of our city.” He described some of the footpaths as “not fit for purpose” and called for more money to be invested in the footpaths that are already in place and need upgrading.
“Two in my own ward where we’re looking at putting new footpaths and that’s fine, but I think the older footpaths need an investment as well and we have looked for it and we are looking for it.”
Mr Horgan said the city must be accessible for everyone, whether they have limited mobility, have young children and need to use a buggy or for any other reason.
“You just have to look at the pedestrian crossing on Albert Road which is dropped on one side and has a huge kerb on the other. Has anyone from City Hall ever looked at this crossing and thought maybe we should fix this?,” he said. “You have areas where road resurfacing has been done and residents cannot open their cars because of the depth of the footpath to road ratio. That puts huge pressure on people on how they get in and out of their own cars.” Mr Horgan also made fresh calls for what he described as “a transparency overhaul” for Cork city.
“It would be good to see these figures published online more regularly for all to see and not need the FOI process to uncover them.
“In 2019, I called for a transparency overhaul for Cork City whereby all spending fines etc would be published on the website, similar to what you see in South Bend, Indiana.
“An audit would identify what needs to be done rather than any piecemeal approach in the city and the wider suburbs.”
Cork City Council said in the FOI correspondence that payment of compensation arises when the City Council incurs a legal liability for footpath defects giving rise to injury/loss where the Council is not in a position to offset liability to a third party or defend the accident loss.
Cork City Council has been contacted by The Echo for further comment.