Grit services face winter cutbacks

SALT STOCKPILE Kirklees workers at a grip depot.
SALT STOCKPILE Kirklees workers at a grip depot.
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With winter around the corner, Kirklees Council has announced it will be buying no more grit bins to add to its stock.

The number of bins is being capped at 1,450 after agreement from Kirklees Council Cabinet this week.

The council has 25,000 tonnes of grit stored away in depots in Batley, Honley, Denby Dale and Slaithwaite. And 27 grit lorries – down from 32 – will work on priority routes including busy roads, hospital, bus and key commuting routes. The number of priority routes remains unchanged but due to ‘route optimisation’ the total mileage will be cut.

The council estimates that based on an average winter it will save £300,000 due to the reduction in the number of routes, more efficient use of resources and reduction in salt use. But Kirklees is also introducing a night shift to cover between 10pm and 7am, when key roads particularly on high ground will be gritted. Previously grit crews started work at 5am.

And ward councillors will still have the discretion, with advice from officers, to position the salt bins within their wards away from priority gritting routes to meet local needs.

Starting on October 13, teams will be filling up grit bins so people can help to clear ice and snow in their own areas. Coun Steve Hall, Cabinet member for highways, said some of the numerous bins on key routes may need to be moved to newer housing estates with no provision.

Kirklees Liberal Democrats have gone a step further by saying that housing developers building new homes in Kirklees should have to pay for grit bins for the first five years if they will be needed by home owners.

Group leader Coun Nicola Turner said: “The cost of a bin a single bin for five years is £1,300 roughly which is peanuts to many housing developers and I can’t see them objecting to a minor additional cost.”