Charity that drives medics in bad weather say Northamptonshire's axed gritting routes will make their jobs more dangerous

A charity response team has said the county council's decision to only grit 90 roads at sub-zero conditions will make their jobs more dangerous.

Thursday, 25th October 2018, 8:52 am
Updated Thursday, 25th October 2018, 8:55 am
Andrew Sullivan uses his own 4x4 to help medics and other service users get to work.

Northants 4x4 Response drives and supports the emergency and essential services, when they need four-wheel-drive help in severe weather conditions. But since Northamptonshire County Council revealed that its fleet would be reducing the number of roads it will grit, starting this month, the charity feels it will make their job a lot harder.One of the 30 hard-working volunteers in Northamptonshire, Andrew Sullivan, said: “If there are fewer routes being gritted due to cuts, then there could potentially be an increase in workload, as more service users will require our assistance. "Their members may be on these affected routes and may only own vehicles not suitable to meet the conditions, unlike ours.“It also means there is potentially an increase in danger for our responders, as we will be driving on more ungritted roads and over more ice.”Some roads which would have been treated when temperatures are forecast to fall to 0.5 C have been downgraded in priority.These roads will now only be treated when sub-zero conditions are set to last 48 hours or more.About 500 grit bins across the county – 30 in Northampton – which were filled by the council will be either removed or left to the community to replenish.In preparation for the poor road conditions the response team will practise “skid pan training” to help them get to grips with the adverse weather.

"This does not necessarily mean we will not make it out to service users.

"It just means more of them may require our help and in doing so.

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Pictured L-R: chairman Gordon Brown and volunteer Mark Solesbury.

"Like every other road user we are at an increased risk due to the conditions of the ungritted roads," Andrew added.

Day-in-day-out Northants 4x4 Rescue volunteers alongside specialist charities such as Northants Search & Rescue, The Maritime Volunteer Service and Northants Emergency Aid Team to respond to emergencies as disasters, such as flooding and other natural disasters, but may also be called upon in the vent of a plane and train crash in rural areas too.

During the summer month the charity also works alongside Cancer Research UKs Race For Life, helping them to set up and marshal all of their cross country courses.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Given the financial challenges faced and a very difficult budget position, further tough decisions were needed.

“The routes which have been taken off the council’s precautionary network are now on what is known as the adverse network.

“The adverse network consists of roads, which are gritted when snow conditions are declared. Therefore in extreme conditions, these roads will be gritted.”

The charity is always in need of donations to keep their 30 volunteers on the road. If you would like to help, you can donate here.