ARDS and North Down got less than one-twentieth of roads repair cash spent in the province over the last five years.

In stark proof of just how badly underfunded local streets and pavements are, and why this district has been branded the pothole capital of the province, several parts of Northern Ireland got close to three times as much money as this area did.

Repair spending is so unbalanced that the region most flush with cash got almost as much money last year alone as Ards and North Down saw in half a decade.

That’s according to statistics released by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), which show that this district got just 4.4% of the £540m spent on fixing roads across the province between April 2018 and March 2023.

Over those five years, a total of £23.8m was spent repairing roads in Ards and North Down – the smallest amount in the province.

The area with the highest spending, Mid-Ulster, got £21.5m last year alone.

In fact, two neighbouring and largely rural areas – the Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and Tyrone districts – hoovered up almost a quarter of roads repair cash over the last five years between them.

Each of them had more than £65m spent fixing their streets and pavements,

Two of the least densely populated parts of Northern Ireland, their cash splurges are the result of a DfI policy that assigns funding to areas based on the length of roads within them, not the volume of traffic using those roads.

In other words, the money’s going where the land is, not where the people are.

That means small but densely populated areas such as Ards and North Down lose out – even though having a dense population means a district’s roads will be used much more often and wear out faster.

Even capital city Belfast isn’t doing well out of the DfI’s spending plans, getting the third lowest amount of cash in the province.

But the disparity is particularly stark in Ards and North Down.

Here, the most that was ever spent in a single year was £5.9m; Belfast never saw less than £7m in one year, while this district’s southern neighbours Newry, Mourne and Down didn’t get less than £9m.

Ards and North Down is the second most densely populated part of Northern Ireland, heavy with suburbs and crowded commuter routes that need regular repair work.

Yet last year just £3m was spent on fixing this area’s roads. That’s not only the smallest amount in Northern Ireland, it’s less than half the amount the second-lowest area got.

Despite that, DfI officials have repeatedly insisted that there’s nothing wrong with a funding formula that results in such a massive disparity – and at one point, a senior roads mandarin claimed that Ards and North Down is actually overfunded.