A number of roads that were removed from the gritting network may not see the lorries return after all despite a council reversal - because the machines are now too big.
Northamptonshire County Council had previously removed almost 500 roads from its precautionary gritting network in an attempt to save £475,000.
But the council reversed its policy after calls from residents and opposition councillors to reinstate them, and a number of road collisions on icy roads that had not been gritted.
Council leader Matt Golby said that he had listened to the ‘clear message’ that had been sent to the authority, and has said the service would return ‘as near as damn it’ to the previous levels.
However, some routes may now miss out on the reinstatement after cabinet member Councillor Ian Morris said that gritting machines would no longer be able to fit down them.
He said: “We do have a slight problem in that some of the gritting machines are actually too big to go down some roads, so it’s going to be a little difficult to grit every single road that was removed.”
It was not disclosed how many, or which roads, this issue now refers to.
The revelation, made at Thursday’s county council cabinet meeting (February 14), was prompted by a question from Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Chris Stanbra.
He asked: “I was pleased to hear you say leader that the budget reinstates the gritting routes to previous levels. Most would therefore assume that the 400 kilometres of roads that were moved from the precautionary network to the adverse network in the report approved last October are therefore being moved back to the precautionary network and will be gritted with along the current roads that are currently on the precautionary network. That would be how I would interpret a statement that says it is reinstating the gritting to previous levels.
“However, according to NN Highways the changes that are going to be introduced soon will see the introduction of a new 'intermediate' network, and these will be treated after the precautionary routes have been completed. So which is it? Are we going back to what we had before, or are we introducing a new level that sits somewhere between the precautionary and the adverse?”
Councillor Morris responded: “What we’re doing is we’re having a look currently at what we’re going to reinstate for next year. We’re currently doing extra gritting now on this precautionary plus route, which is a beefed up version of the precautionary, plus extra routes.
“But we are working hard on a plan, and I think we will have something soon which will flesh out a bit more what we’re proposing to do next year. But the budget figure is still going back in, it’s just what we can achieve with that. And hopefully we can achieve more with that because we’ll try and get more gritting done.
“You have to remember that with this reinstated, we will be gritting at levels far higher than most councils in the country, if that’s any comfort.”