Villages left out in cold as salt runs low

COMMUNITIES across Suffolk have been warned their roads will not be gritted during the current freezing weather.

Paul Geater

COMMUNITIES across Suffolk have been warned their roads will not be gritted during the current freezing weather.

Suffolk County Council is to only grit “Priority One” routes in Suffolk - A and B roads and some smaller routes that carry a reasonable number of vehicles.

The decision to restrict gritting was made amid fears that the county could run out of grit because some that has been ordered has been diverted to other parts of the country where the situation is worse.

The county is currently sitting on enough salt to last until next Tuesday morning if only priority one roads are gritted - but it is expecting a further delivery at the weekend.

County transport spokesman Guy McGregor said: “Our suppliers of salt are under pressure. Just as Suffolk County Council prioritises the roads our supplier is having to prioritise customers and supplies are now being diverted to local authorities in the north whose stocks are completely exhausted.

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“With this in mind we need to make sure we use the salt we have in the most effective and efficient way. We have stocks of salt at present, but we need to be prudent to ensure that we are able to continue to grit the priority routes.

“We will continue to salt our priority one routes, which includes A and B roads in the county and routes to main hospitals and fire stations and routes with more than 4,000 movements a day, but will not salt other roads.

“We want people to be aware of this change to our service, but I want to reassure everyone that we will continue to treat almost a third of the county's roads.

“We will continue to fill grit bins in the county on request from parish councils so local people can treat local trouble spots on minor roads, which otherwise would not be treated.”

Last night the county still had 3,000 tonnes of grit in store - and uses 250 tonnes on each gritting run.

By restricting their coverage to priority one routes, they will be doing two runs a day.

One community that will not be seeing any more gritters during the big freeze is Walsham le Willows in Mid Suffolk which is on a priority two route.

As she watched huge flakes of snow fall outside her window, parish council chairman Jenny Blackburn feared the decision could lead to the village being cut off.

She said: “We did have a gritter come through here on Tuesday which was good - but it would be terrible if we didn't see any more.

“The roads off the main road are very bad anyway - and if that road isn't treated it could lead to the whole community being cut off as happened in previous years.”

Mrs Blackburn has lived in Walsham all her life and can remember the winter of 1963 when she was a teenager.

“I thought it was quite fun then - we were cut off and I can remember the farmer selling his milk in the village shop but that kind of thing won't happen any more,” she said.

Other villages that are not on priority one routes include Mendlesham, Worlingworth, Wenhaston, Easton, Kersey, Brandeston, Cretingham, and Hargrave.

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