Mayhem on Our Grit-Free Roads; Not Our Finest Hour; Councils Keener to Ration Supplies Than Keep the Highways Safe, Says AA

Daily Mail (London), December 20, 2010 | Go to article overview

Mayhem on Our Grit-Free Roads; Not Our Finest Hour; Councils Keener to Ration Supplies Than Keep the Highways Safe, Says AA


Byline: Colin Fernandez

RATIONING of grit has led to ice-rink conditions on the roads, motorists' groups warned yesterday.

Despite similar mistakes in previous years, it appears many routes ground to a halt because of a combination of budget cuts and councils eking out their salt supplies.

The Government claimed salt supplies were much higher than previous years but conceded that if the extreme weather continued more investment might be needed to prevent transport chaos.

As jack-knifed lorries brought roads to a standstill, the AA said its members were reporting a woeful failure to make busy roads safe in many areas.

The AA's head of road policy, Paul Wattis, said: 'One of the problems is there is not enough grit being put on the major roads. Councils and the Highways Agency should be more concerned about road safety than conserving supplies.'

Edmund King, AA president, said: 'We are experiencing more road closures and blockages caused by jackknifed trucks or trucks stuck in the snow.

'On motorways and dual carriageways we would urge truck drivers to keep to the left lane to avoid blocking the whole route. It might also be worth more HGVs considering snow chains.'

Examples of authorities conserving their grit supplies include Lincolnshire County Council, which said despite starting the winter with 31,600 tons of grit, 8,000 more than usual, it had already used about 60 per cent due to persistent low temperatures. It said it would now use grit 'carefully' as its next delivery was not due until mid- January.

Derby City Council said it had reduced the number of roads it gritted by 39 per cent to conserve its supplies.

Nottinghamshire County Council had 14,600 tons of grit at the start of winter, more than four times the amount recommended by the Government, but it has already used 12,000. Now it is importing 6,000 tons from Peru to help it maintain supplies.

Cardiff City Council said if its grit supplies fall any further it will have to cut the number of roads that it grits.

The previous government created a 'Salt Cell' comprising representatives of central and local government and the Highways Agency, to take over in emergency situations and ensure salt reaches areas most in need regardless of existing contracts.

The Salt Cell has not taken action this winter - but in January it ordered councils to cut down on gritting by around 40 per cent to conserve supplies. …

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