Plans to change gritting services slammed

LABOUR councillors on Derbyshire County Council have slammed the authority’s plans to change the way the county’s roads are gritted in the winter.

The county council are currently consulting on plans to change the way it grits Derbyshire’s roads, which they spent £4.5 million on last year. The authority have said they can’t afford to keep spending that amount because they need to cut their spending by £90 million over the next four years and so are consulting on plans to split the county’s roads into two networks – primary and secondary - and add a third ‘tertiary’ network.

But the Labour group on the county council have slammed the plans which they say will mean:

* 40 per cent of roads currently treated will only be gritted between 9.00am and 5pm

* The number of snow ploughs and gritting lorries will be reduced

* The number of skilled snow plough and gritter drivers has already been reduced

* The budget for the service has been cut by £1 million – a massive 28 per cent.

Labour Group Leader Anne Western said: “This really is an astonishing decision. Last year thousands of Derbyshire residents were stranded due to the authority’s inability to keep our roads open and moving, unlike neighbouring councils in Sheffield, Rotherham and Nottinghamshire.

“Many elderly people were unable to get to the shops to get basic food stuff, schools and hospitals were badly hit and residents were unable to get to work.

“We understand that Derbyshire County Council has to make savings, but this is a massive cut to a very important service which will have a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable people in Derbyshire.

“We are arguing for the budget to be restored to its previous level of £3.5million. Last winter’s snow cost the Derbyshire economy £5 million per day.

“We can’t afford not to invest in keeping our roads open.

“We pledge here and now that if Labour re-takes control of Derbyshire County Council in 2013 we will reinstate the missing million pounds.

“We are already identifying areas where we can make the necessary savings to pay for this and we will put our plans to the electorate before the elections.”

An online petition opposing any cuts to the winter maintenance budget has been set up and can be signed at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/have_your_say/Petitions. There are also paper copies of the petition throughout Derbyshire. If 7,500 residents sign the petition, it will provoke a full council debate.

To find out more about the county council’s review of gritting, see www.derbyshire.gov.uk.