Almost 500 roads in Northamptonshire will no longer be gritted as a priority from October.
Today the Chronicle & Echo can reveal the routes which are being downgraded – with many near schools, train stations, shops and bus stops.
It’s part of a move to save Northamptonshire County Council £475,000.
But Liberal Democrat leader on the council, Cllr Chris Stanbra (Oakley, Corby), says the move is dicing with the public’s safety.
He said: “I warned that this was not a good idea during the budget-setting process and the Tories chose to go ahead with those cuts.
“Next winter when it gets cold and icy there will be 497 roads which people are used to being gritted that won’t be.
“You can be pretty sure that as a result there will be accidents and as a result there could be injuries.
“Let’s just hope that some of those people do not lose their life.”
All 497 roads are being downgraded from the ‘precautionary’ network to the ‘adverse’ network.
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.
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.
Cllr Stanbra said the effects of the cuts would be disproportionate to the the amount saved, adding: “What’s one person’s life worth?”
The move has also been criticised by Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw (Northall, Kettering), chairman of the finance scrutiny committee.
He said: “It’s outrageous because public safety will absolutely be put at risk. We had some bad snow at the end of last year and it caused chaos.
“The public were calling for more gritting and the response from the council is to provide less gritting.”
Cllr Scrimshaw added that the council could cover the cost of its savings by using capital receipts it was planning to spend on transformation projects, which it has now been told it can’t do.
He said that capital can’t be used for gritting but by using it to cover pothole work it would free up money which could.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said the reduction in gritting would return levels to that of 10 years ago.
The spokesman said: “Given the financial challenges faced and a very difficult budget positon, further tough decisions are needed in order to deliver a balanced budget.
“The proposals this winter would see a reduction in the precautionary network from 43 per cent to 32 per cent.
“Before 2008, we gritted around 34 per cent of the network and in 2008, this was increased to 46 per cent.
“These proposals would bring gritting levels in line with those of before 2008.”
One of the roads on the list, Lyveden Way in Corby, has only been gritted since 2009 after a series of complaints because it was initially unadopted.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, urged against reducing gritting levels.
He said: “It is vital that road safety does not become a casualty of ever-more stretched council budgets. Icy roads are incredibly dangerous and it is crucial that the right precautions are taken.
“We strongly urge against any reduction in road treatment and, with 70 people killed or seriously injured on our roads every day, encourage road safety to be made more of a local investment priority.”
The roads in and around Northampton which will no longer be treated as a priority
Dallington Park Road
Birds Hill Road
Cherry Lodge Road
Rectory Farm Road
Ecton Brook Road
Fir Tree Walk
Birchfield Road East
St Davids Road
Spinney Hill Road
Wootton Hope Drive
Hill Farm Rise
Queen Eleanor Road
Barley Hill Road
High Street, Upton
Scribers Drive, Upton
Telford Street, Upton
Telford Way, Upton
Station Road, Great Billing
High Street, Great Billing
The Green, Hardingstone
High Street, Hardingstone
Wake Way, Grange Park
Bridge Meadow Way, Grange Park
Quintonside, Grange Park
Houghton Road, Hackleton
Houghton Road, Little Houghton
Leys Lane, Little Houghton
The Green, Great Houghton
High Street, Great Houghton
Piddington Lane, Hackleton
Bedford Road, Little Houghton
Northampton Road, Denton
Bedford Road, Denton
Denton Road, Castle Ashby
Whiston Road, Castle Ashby
Castle Ashby Road, Whiston
Denton Road, Cogenhoe
Cogenhoe Road, Cogenhoe
Northampton Road, Yardley Hastings
The Square, Yardley Hastings
Little Street, Yardley Hastings
High Street, Yardley Hastings
Dowthorpe Hill, Earls Barton
Station Road, Earls Barton
High Street, Earls Barton
Wellingborough Road, Earls Barton