Councillors and MP for Northampton South object to gritting routes in Eastern District

Steep streets could be left to ice over in the east of Northampton and become dangerous, a group of Conservatives have claimed, after the Tory-run authority axed winter gritting routes.

Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 2:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 9:08 am
Pictured left-right: Borough and county councillor Andrew Kilbride, Andrew Lewer MP for Northampton South and borough councillor James Hill.

Almost 500 roads in Northamptonshire will no longer be gritted as a priority from October as part of a move to save Northamptonshire County Council £475,000.

Councillor James Hill (Con, Rectory Farm), Andrew Kilbride (Con, Billing) and Andrew Lewer MP for Northampton South have now written a joint letter to the cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, Councillor Ian Morris (Con, Silverstone) to plead for a reprieve on plans to stop gritting roads near schools, pre-schools and community centres in the Eastern District.

Of the 497 roads set to be axed this year Olden Road and Rectory Farm Road in Rectory Farm will be affected as well as Field Mill Road in Bellinge, home to Ecton Brook School, Bellinge Community Pre-School and Bellinge Community Centre.

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Hundreds of roads have been axed from the grit route

Penfold Lane in Great Billing, which hosts Bizzy Bears Pre-school, and Station Road in Bellinge, which has Spires Academy - a school for primary age child with special educational needs - will also be affected.

The letter reads: "We believe that your proposed withdrawal of service has not taken proper consideration of the safety issues arising from the withdrawal of gritting services. Olden Road, in particular, is on a steep incline and as such would become extremely treacherous if not gritted in icy conditions.

"Whilst we fully appreciate the financial context in which you are proposing the withdrawals of service, we would urge you to reconsider these roads on the grounds of public safety which also take into account the schools and local amenities which our communities rely on in all weather conditions.

"The county council has suggested they could work with parish councils to fill your service gaps, but I need not remind you that Rectory Farm does not have a parish council. We look forward to discussing this matter further with you as a matter of urgency."

Gritting is undertaken on precautionary routes whenever there is a forecast temperature of 0.5C over a 24-hour forecast period and take priority when it snows.

All 497 roads are being downgraded from the ‘precautionary’ network to the ‘adverse’ network.

Roads on the adverse network, which these 497 roads will now be part of, will instead be treated in daytime hours in advance of a high confidence forecast for snow or when temperatures are not forecast to rise above zero for 48 hours.

In effect it means it will have to be much colder for much longer for these roads to be gritted.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Given the financial challenges faced and a very difficult budget position, further tough decisions are needed in order to deliver a balanced budget.

“The proposals this winter would see a number of roads move to the council’s adverse gritting network.

“It is important to note these roads will continue to be gritted in extreme weather conditions and monitored and maintained accordingly."