Northern Ireland

Road safety campaign could be reduced following budget cuts

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Media captionEnvironment Minister Mark H Durkan said there were "tough decisions to be made".

The Department of the Environment's road safety promotion campaign could be significantly curtailed as a result of budget cuts.

The department could also shed up to 500 jobs - almost one third of its staff - and cut emergency assistance for homes affected by flooding.

The proposals have been published in the department's draft budget consultation.

The department faces a budget cut of £12.9m in 2015-16.

In the draft budget, published on the department's website, it says that more jobs are likely to be lost in a wide range of voluntary, educational and private sectors bodies which will have their grant funding cut.

'Small pie'

The Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said there were "tough decisions to be made".

He said: "No-one wants to make tough decisions like this, however it's imperative that we do remain capable of discharging the functions of the department.

"Many of the grants we provide are pretty dire as it stands. I can assure you I'm not scaremongering. I voted against the draft budget and outlined my reasons for doing so.

"The implications are severe whatever way we cut what has become an extremely small pie."

Stormont departments have been laying out their plans for how they will deal with reduced budgets next year.

'Reduce services'

On top of jobs cuts, the Department of Environment says there will be other significant effects.

It says there is no more money for emergency payments for households which are hit by flooding.

Road safety promotion will have to be cut back and the grants that the department provides to councils and a range of other bodies will also be cut.

SDLP MLA Alban Maginness, who is on the environment committee, said the cuts would have a huge impact on a relatively small department of 1500 people.

"All of this emanates from a ferocious budget that has savagely cut other departments," he said.

"The cut will also affect local councils as they will lose part of the support grant that they get, so councils will have to put up rates or reduce services."

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