Winter grit plans come under fire

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RESIDENTS have protested about Derbyshire County Council’s plans for tackling snow and ice amid claims it is cutting its winter service budget by £1m.

The council has outlined plans to prioritise roads on its gritting network this winter into primary, secondary and tertiary categories within a £2.5m budget.

In addition to that it has ringfenced £2m for ‘extreme’ weather conditions such as those experienced last December.

However, residents and parish councils fear that, despite this, some roads could be neglected.

Eric Burgess, of Clowne, said he was shocked that Boughton Lane, in Clowne, which includes Heritage High School, falls into the secondary category and will only be treated in the day until noon.

He said: “Boughton Lane has been relegated and a lot of Clowne will have no gritting done by the county council.”

The county council states primary routes will be treated day and night and will be pre-treated and secondary routes will be treated during the day until noon and be pre-treated where possible.

Proposed tertiary routes will be mainly left to external contractors to clear snow and these include routes to isolated villages, industrial estates and schools not already on the gritting network.

Clowne Parish Council fears the county council is pushing costs on others and Labour Derbyshire County Cllr Anne Western accused the Conservative county council of cutting its winter service budget from £3.5m to £2,5m.

Cllr Western said: “There is a county council Have your Say website link to register complaints with a residents’ petition and if there are 7,500 signatures we can force a debate.

“Labour members are running a campaign across the county and we’re urging people to write in and protest.”

The county council was forced to exceed its budget last winter by £1m and spent £4.5m and is now facing budgetary restraints but aims to increase efficiency and cost effectiveness with no costs to parish councils. County cllr and deputy leader Simon Spencer said: “This year there’s £4.5m available including a planned contingency to reduce the effect of overspending on other services.”

Comments are welcome until October 12 by letter or via the county council website before the authority makes any decision.

l What do you think? comment@derbyshiretimes.co.uk.

jon.cooper@derbyshiretimes.co.uk