Transport boss critical of Government salt policy

SUFFOLK'S transport boss has criticised the government for “commandeering” the county's salt supplies as his team of gritters work around the clock to try to keep the roads clear.

Simon Tomlinson

SUFFOLK'S transport boss has criticised the government for “commandeering” the county's salt supplies as his team of gritters work around the clock to try to keep the roads clear.

Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for Suffolk County Council, said: “In terms of efficiency, I believe our gritting operation is among the best in the country.

“We are waiting for a supply of salt today which should see us through next week, if it doesn't get diverted elsewhere by government.

“The government has commandeered our salt supplies, so our hands are tied in some respects.”

He also claimed Suffolk was suffering from a �14million shortfall in government grants - some of which could be used to improve the winter maintenance programme.

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He said: “We do not get our fair share. Obviously if there was more money available it would give the Cabinet the scope to elect where these resources go.

“My colleagues feel very strongly that the road network should be kept in good order and ideally we would like to allocate more resources to it if it was available.

“But there are other areas that are in need and it is always a question of balancing those resources.”

Junior transport minister and Ipswich MP Chris Mole, who is responsible for trunk roads, commended the work of the authorities in “very difficult circumstances”.

But he said people should not expect every minor road to be treated.

He said: “It is inevitable that when you have a period of intense weather, it is going to become increasingly difficult for the local authority to sustain a network which people are used to when we don't have this sort of weather.

“The Highways Agency and local authorities are doing as much as they can in very difficult circumstances which are only going to get worse as the weather continues to be as extreme as we are experiencing now.

“The important thing is local authorities use their local knowledge to prioritise routes to hospitals and other emergency facilities people need to use in times of crisis. We can't expect every minor route to be sustained.

“I don't think anyone can guarantee in the face of this level of serious, cold weather, to keep roads open, but I'm sure they will do all they can.”

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