Claims of delays in gritting roads denied
LABOUR members of Lancashire County Council say they have been “inundated” with complaints from members of the public about delays to gritting on roads throughout he county, despite warnings of freezing temperatures and snow.
And they claim the problem has been caused by the authority’s Conservative administration to cut gritting services by lowering the temperature needed to trigger call-outs in August.
However, a spokesman for the authority refuted the claims and said changes adopted had not led to any delay in making decisions about when the county’s roads need to be gritted.
County Councillor John Fillis, deputy leader of the authority’s Labour group, said: “Lancashire County Council have decided to lower the road surface temperature intervention level from +1C to +0.5C, cutting the gritting treatments on the highway network this winter.
“They are hoping to save £110k per annum, by reducing the number of network gritting treatments during the winter period to primary and secondary routes.
“Cutting the intervention is predicted to reduce the number of gritting treatments by 894 across Lancashire, based on the intervention levels of +1.0C over the past two winters.”
“We told them that cutting gritting deployment would lead to problems, not only of delays in response times but also in the amount of the network that could be gritted especially on secondary routes.
“I and other councillors, have been inundated with calls from residents unable to get down the road and reports of, thankfully so far, only minor accidents.
“At the time of the cuts to gritting we were informed that it would be reviewed if problems occurred. We hope the Conservatives will keep their promise to the people as 894 less gritting rounds are causing major disruptions right across Lancashire.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council responded: “The adoption of improved technology which predicts more accurately when road temperatures will reach freezing point has not led to any delay in making decisions about when the county’s roads need to be gritted.
“A safety margin of 0.5C is still built into the decision-making process and we treated all priority routes ahead of the recent snowfall, and continued with the treatment day and night, just as we would have aimed to do in previous years.
“There has been no change to the policy to only treat second priority routes once the main routes are clear, and all secondary routes in West Lancashire were treated on the morning of Thursday, January 31.
“Our gritting teams have been very busy over the past week, and the gritters which cover routes in West Lancashire as well as nearby areas such as Chorley, have used over 500 tonnes of salt in that time.”