Council leader brushes off calls to grit more roads

Cllr Golby has received calls from all residents, fellow councillors and a county MP to have another look at a controversial policy that has cut back on road gritting.
Cllr Golby has received calls from all residents, fellow councillors and a county MP to have another look at a controversial policy that has cut back on road gritting.

The leader of Northamptonshire County Council has brushed off calls to grit more roads this winter and says the service is comparable with other counties.

There have been calls from residents, councillors and a Northamptonshire MP for the county council to carry out a review of a controversial policy brought in this winter which has seen the amount of road gritted as part of its precautionary network lowered from 1,954km to 1,543km.

Last week there were a number of incidents on roads across the county leading MP for Corby and East Northants Tom Pursglove to call on the county council to carry out an urgent review in order ‘to ensure the necessary safety of local roads’.

But it does not appear that the county council, which brought in the cuts because of financial problems, will do a U-turn on the policy. The council is saving £475,000 by the winter service reductions.

In a statement released this afternoon Conservative leader Matt Golby said: “Whenever the council introduces a new policy we closely monitor the impact the decision has had and it is no different in this instance.

“Keeping traffic moving safely in wintry weather is a priority and I’m working with highways to gain a greater understanding of how the policy is working.

“Before 2008, we gritted about 34 per cent of the network and in 2008, this was increased to 45 per cent.

“The current gritting levels are in line with those prior to the change before 2008 which is comparable to other local authorities.

“All of the routes removed from the precautionary, priority one network were added to what is known as the adverse, priority two network – the roads which are only treated in extreme adverse weather.

“These roads are pre-treated in advance of high confidence of forecasted snow or when the forecast temperatures are not to rise above zero for 48 hours.”

The precautionary network – which has had 497 roads removed from it this year – is gritted whenever there is a forecast temperature of 0.5C over a 24-hour period. The complete adverse network is gritted ahead of a high chance of snow or if temperatures are not expected to rise above zero for 48 hours.

Snow is forecast across the county from tomorrow (Jan 29) evening.