Huge £1m salt barn scheme will go before council only when figures add up

Ainleys depot at Elland, (Google Street View)
Ainleys depot at Elland, (Google Street View)

CALDERDALE councillors will be asked to approve spending more than £1m on a 10,000-tonne salt barn to house winter grit supplies – but some sums will have to be checked and redone first.

Cabinet members have recommended that £1.1m be included in the Capital Programme for the project at the Ainleys depot at Elland, which will be funded by prudential borrowing.

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The plan was sold on the idea that the investment would be offset by savings made by the more efficient storing of salt stocks, but Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said some of the figures in the briefing paper were not adding up and an indicated saving of around £63,000 per year would actually be less.

It changed the parameters and clarity was needed, said Coun Leigh, who claimed the numbers might be out by thousands of pounds.

This is how many roads Calderdale Council is ready to grit this winter
Cabinet member for regeneration and economic strategy, Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) agreed the figures had to be right when they went for consideration by full council.

“We will correct the figures and I apologise for that,” he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Coun James Baker (Warley) said he was going to raise the issue and said similar mathematical queries had been raised at full council in the past.

He said the new barn, which according to a briefing report would be Calderdale’s largest building if approved, would be beneficial on environmental grounds by reducing leakage of salt which, when water got to it, leaked into the local habitat.

Coun Collins had introduced the item saying that although the original cost mooted some while ago had been around £400,000, the capital sum for the scheme of £1.1m included a sum for reconfiguring the base on which it will stand.

Officers believe the salt barn will cover its costs over the 25-year borrowing period by reducing both wastage and run-off as well as from a site-usage perspective.

Councillors will make a final decision when it comes before full council, with corrected figures to enable them make a cost-benefit analysis.

The debate came after members of the cabinet agreed the council’s winter policy, which set out a list of 1,135 treatable roads, representing 67 per cent of Calderdale’s highways – one of the biggest totals among comparable neighbours.

The cabinet also supported proposals to move Halifax Visitor Centre from its current base in the Central Library to a new town centre venue, probably at the Halifax Piece Hall.

Alternative cost-effective, premises will also be sought for Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre, currently at Hebden Bridge Marina.