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Q and A on icy roads

January 23, 2010
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I asked this question of Cllr. Steed,  Liberal Democrat Executive member for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change. The relevant parts of his answer are reproduced here. The highlighting is mine.

Question

‘As incidents of heavy snow seem to be becoming more frequent, what explanation can the Executive Member give for the failure to grit many heavily populated and parked roads during the severe bout of heavy snow and what guarantees can he give that roads and footpaths will be gritted in any future outbreaks?’

Reply

The severe weather experienced in recent weeks is the worst in twenty nine years. The snow last February was the worst in twelve years. Whether these incidents are becoming more frequent is debatable; but I am pleased that on both occasions the Council’s comprehensive Winter Maintenance Plan has proven to be highly effective. The Plan has kept our priority routes safe and useable. The Council’s policy of gritting major routes in advance of freezing conditions, wherever possible, has ensured that when snow has fallen or freezing conditions been experienced we have continued to provide safe access across all key routes for emergency services, public transport and other road users; that will always be our first priority.

There has been no failure to grit many heavily populated and parked roads as the question suggests. Rather we have accurately managed the service to meet our priorities.  Our Winter Maintenance Plan makes clear that minor routes are gritted after major routes have been completed and when time and resources allow.

Members should be under no illusion that meeting our priorities and successfully delivering the Winter Maintenance Plan has presented a daunting challenge that has stretched resources for the Council over recent weeks. Where in a normal winter we could reasonably have been expected to have gritted roads on perhaps six or so occasions, since 1 December last year we have gritted roads on over forty occasions to date.  Roads have been gritted on at least two in every three nights since 1 December.

Put simply, this is no longer a case of spreading salt more thinly across our existing routes but of visiting less roads in order to apply salt at levels that remain effective. It is probable that should any further severe weather be experienced we will only be gritting bus routes in the Royal Borough.

Residents in Cotterill, Ellerton, Bond, Douglas and adjacent roads may be interested to learn that there was no failure to grit. Likewise people in Ashcombe Avenue, Southborough Close and many roads in Oakhill. When I inspected all the roads mentioned, on the worst day of snow, there had been no gritting – hence my initial complaint and my question in Council.

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