Calderdale Council has responded to criticism of its new winter roads policy by reinstating some routes as a matter of urgency and night insisted it WAS listening.
The council will reinstate gritting on secondary routes which will include roads to doctors’ surgeries or medical centres, some council facilities, business and shopping areas and local town and village centres with additional risk assessments of problem spots.
The council introduced the pilot policy after new national guidance was issued earlier this year which provides criteria for all local authorities, so that they provide a service based upon fairness and clear principles. Previously, the gritting programme was based upon custom and practice with no clear rules for the selection of routes.
Following lengthy discussion at committees involving councillors from all parties and a Cabinet report earlier this year, it was agreed the new policy would be piloted for 12 months, with opportunity to adapt it based upon experience of delivering it in practice. Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, Coun Barry Collins said: “It’s vital we keep our local roads moving and safe. For the first time we have assessed every road against a set criteria and we are monitoring the day-to-day situation carefully.
“The recent cold weather has tested this. It has been very positive in many areas, for instance we are now confident that we can grit the full primary network within three hours, which means that our transport systems will continue to operate through the most severe weather. However, we have also identified in the past week elements which we need to revise with immediate effect. In a small number of cases there are roads which we will need to include as they meet the criteria.
“In other instances we have received significant public concern in some areas where local people have reported that the changes are having a significant impact upon their daily lives. We want to listen and respond as fast as we can. We are proposing some immediate changes to the pilot policy to restore secondary roads on the network to the list of roads to be gritted. This will have financial implications and will not be immediate, as it means we will need to obtain additional gritters for our new in-house team, however these will be put into service as soon as they arrive. We have also ordered 200 grit bins, to arrive by the end of next week. We will publish a revised schedule of roads which will now be included and continue to review the impact of our pilot policy.“