Proposal to cut gritting in Norfolk leads to community backlash

A gritting lorry out on the roads in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

A gritting lorry out on the roads in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Norfolk County Council is desperately seeking to save money due to cuts to a central government grant and one their proposals is to reduce gritting across the county.

Picture: Ian Burt

Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The council estimates that slashing county gritting from 34pc to 30pc will save them £200,000, a saving which will go toward the £125m that needs to be saved ahead of the grant being completely cut by 2021.

But the launch of an online consultation has prompted backlash across the region with some residents claiming that gritting is already inadequate and further cuts would put lives at risk.

NHS worker Danny Jones from Sprowston, said: 'I do not wish to turn up to work in the back of an ambulance. A motorbike is my sole form of transport and I leave for work at 6am most mornings. The roads where I live were like an ice rink last week, including the only road onto the estate.'

Former Norfolk resident Rosie Clarke, who now lives in Scotland, called the proposal 'an absolute joke'.

She said: 'In Scotland if the temperature is due to drop almost all of the roads get salted. A roads, B roads, streets in towns. Sometimes this is done every night for weeks on end. You don't hear the councils saying they'll reduce treating the roads to save money. They put people's safety first.'

Meanwhile, Dereham Town Council said they fear the proposed policy would be biased against market towns because the same guarantee of a gritted route is being applied to towns and to small villages.

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A spokesperson for the council said: 'Norfolk County Council (NCC) should not be saying that it will try to maintain a gritted route to a town or village just because it already has one.

'It should be asking how to maximise the number of people getting to work, so that businesses can operate and services can remain functional for as many people as possible within the budget available.

'This approach would provide the greatest economic benefit to the county by maximising productivity throughout winter.'

Give your views by taking part in the consulation online.

Gritting the bus routes

Concerns have also been expressed over the future of gritting bus routes.

Dereham Town Council said the county council should be more specific on what constitutes a major bus route and which would be gritted.

A spokesperson said: 'It is proposed that any bus route with a frequency of more than one bus every two hours should be considered as a major bus route and should be gritted. Such a route would be relied upon by a great number of people and could provide the greatest economic benefit for the county.'

Breckland Distict Councillor, Harry Clarke, said he supported the town council's proposal because he is concerned about how reduced gritting will impact businesses in a market town like Dereham. 'I worry about the effect this would have on businesses in the town when residents, particuarly the elderly, choose not to use cars or are without cars and cannot get into town to work or shop,' he said.