Gritting in spotlight after ice mayhem

SERIOUS questions were being asked today following dozens of accidents after many vital roads across the area were not gritted.

SERIOUS questions were being asked today following dozens of accidents after many vital roads across the area were not gritted.

As temperatures plummeted again overnight - as forecast - council bosses decided only to grit main roads as a priority, but drivers have been urged to be more careful as gritting is not a “magic safety wand”.

In just 12 hours overnight, Suffolk police were called to 32 accidents across the county due to the icy conditions.

Thousands of motorists faced black ice problems as they tried to reach the A12, A14 and the centres of towns, with villages and some connecting roads untreated until the rush-hour.

And on the A12 at Woodbridge, near to Farlingaye High School one lane was closed off due to a pool of ice.

With grit stocks dwindling after one of the severest winters for some years, there was concern officials were trying to save on salt with several cold days still to come.

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But council officials today denied this and said all Suffolk's A and B roads, more than 1,000 miles, had been gritted last night, then again at 4am today, and then at 6am priority two roads - bus and school routes and main village roads - had been gritted.

They urged drivers to be more careful in winter conditions - and to always be alert for ice, whether roads have been gritted or not.

A county council spokeswoman said: “We always stress that people must drive carefully - drive to the conditions.

“If a pavement has been gritted people walk on it with care and people must do the same with driving on the roads.

“Gritting is not a guarantee of safety - it is an aid, not a magic wand and doesn't solve the problem.”

Gritters had gone out last night to do the priority one routes and with temperatures continuing to fall over during the night, crews were called in again to do a second run at 4am and then priority two routes at 6am.

She said: “Just doing the priority one routes is a huge chunk of the county's roads, all the A and B roads.

“One of the issues this morning was the flooding and surface water on a lot of the roads. The gritting has to be done at exactly the right time to be effective so it is not washed away.”

Its 39 vehicles put around 470 tonnes of salt on a total of 1,600 miles of road overnight - half the county's network.

The council has spent about �2.5 million on gritting roads this year - and overspend of about �300,000.

Last week it said it had 3,000 tonnes of salt left, which would last five days if they gritted priority one and two routes twice a day, but daily deliveries were arriving by road and weekly by sea.

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