Plans to slash 200 miles of gritting routes across Northamptonshire set to be rubber stamped next week

Northamptonshire's gritting network is set to be drastically reduced this winter.
Northamptonshire's gritting network is set to be drastically reduced this winter.

Moves to drastically reduce the road network gritted by Northamptonshire County Council are set to be approved by cabinet members next week.

The measures, which will also see the authority attempt to hand some 500 grit bins over to community groups to maintain and slash 216 miles of roads from its top priority routes, are aimed at saving £475,000 this financial year.

The amendments to the winter maintenance programme, set to be approved at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, October 9, also include a proposal to reconsider the current three-hour timescale in which gritting runs are currently completed.

Councillor Ian Morris, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “Given the financial challenges faced and a very difficult budget position, further tough decisions are needed in order to deliver a balanced budget.

“Before 2008, we gritted about 34 per cent of the network and in 2008, this was increased to 45 per cent.

“These proposals would bring gritting levels in line with those of before 2008 and in these difficult financial times we have to consider this very seriously.”

The county council previously treated all the “A” class roads in the county, busy routes and at least one road to each village community, among other routes, as a precaution when ice or snow was forecasted.

The proposals before cabinet would see the coverage of these precautionary, 'priority one', roads reduced from 1,214 miles to 958 miles, or from 45 per cent to 34 per cent of the entire network.

All of the routes removed from the priority one network would be added to what is known as the priority two network – the roads which are only treated in extreme adverse weather.

The time taken to complete each gritting run would also be increased from three hours to three-and-a-half hours, which means that 19 vehicles could cover the network as opposed to the current number of 26.

All of the current 1,973 road-side grit bins in the county have been re-assessed according to new scoring criteria and 500 do not match the revised measures of suitability.

As such, these bins will be offered to the local community to maintain and replenish or otherwise removed.

The measures will also see footways treated using a mixture of sand and salt, rather than the clear liquid de-icer currently used.

The authority says this simpler method can be undertaken by Northamptonshire Highways' in-house workforce and its supply chain partners using 'basic equipment'.