Conservative leader Cllr Matt Golby announced that Northamptonshire County Council will reverse its precautionary gritting policy.
Last October, the NCC decided to reduce the total length of roads gritted from 1954km to 1543km (a reduction of 21%) in order to save £475,000. The gritting fleet was reduced from 26 to 19 vehicles, and the NCC placed greater responsibility on individual parish councils to resolve their own gritting-related problems.
However, adverse winter weather in January exposed the deficiencies of the policy and resulted in car accidents on roads that had not been gritted.
According to Cabinet Member for Transport, Highways and Environment Cllr Ian Morris, “Our (NCC’s) increasingly stabilised financial position alongside the invaluable assistance of our partner Northampton Borough Council means we are able to put extra money into the service to make improvements.”
In addition, a new ‘intermediate’ gritting network will be implemented within the current financial year in order to maximise coverage.
The grit is a combination of grit salt and molasses which gives a higher resistance to being washed away by rain or blown away by the wind. Salt dissolves into the water and lowers its freezing point so it will remain liquid at temperatures below 0°C.
The NCC’s response was partially a consequence of 3,200 signatures to a petition founded by Jo Mumford. MP Tom Pursglove also stepped in and wrote a letter to the county council’s leader Matt Golby and contacted the council’s chief executive Theresa Grant about his concerns.