More than 40 requests for extra gritting on North Yorkshire’s huge roads network are set to be rejected despite warnings over “dangerous” conditions and salt bins running empty.
North Yorkshire County Council – which spends around £7m every winter to treat more than half of the county’s 5,753 miles of roads – considers requests for routes to be added or given greater priority on an annual basis.
This year it has received 42 requests from residents, councillors and businesses, but none have been recommended for approval at a meeting on Friday.
These include 15 requests in Richmondshire, 14 in Harrogate, 7 in Craven and 6 in Hambleton.
Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at the county council, said the authority already treated a large proportion of roads and that routes are rarely added due to the time and costs involved.
However, he added safety and efficiency are always priorities when deciding how to use resources.
“An efficient winter gritting service is one of our top priorities,” Councillor Mackenzie told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“We are in a part of the country with some very remote and exposed roads, but we still have got to make sure people can go about their daily lives safely in bad weather conditions.
“We have not often made changes simply because we already treat a bigger proportion of our highways network in a routine winter than any other local authority.
“And of course, we do have to prioritise in order to keep the main roads and bus routes open in periods of bad weather.”
Motorways and trunk roads are the responsibility of Highways England, while the county council looks after all other routes.
The county council is also responsible for treating pedestrian footpaths and aims to cover all busy shopping areas and main footpaths before 9am in severe weather.
Between 1 October and 30 April, road gritters are on call 24 hours a day, while farmer contractors, duty managers and overnight patrols are all on standby when necessary.
Roads are treated with rock salt on a priority basis and where icy and snowy conditions are at their worst.
But some residents believe more roads should be added or given greater priority, with one resident describing Regent Road in Skipton as “dangerous” during bad weather conditions.
They said in a request: “Regent residents wishing to travel to work are faced with a hazardous task. I would imagine some people will be genuinely fearful for their safety.”
Another resident said salt bins in Harrogate are often running empty, while another claimed cars were abandoned on Kent Road in the town last year due to a lack of gritting.
Councillor Mackenzie added: “We will always look very carefully at requests, especially if there are concerns about safety on busy routes or travel to school.
“But generally speaking, officers will recommend rejection of a request if there are perfectly good alternative routes for a person to get from A to B safely under the current gritting routes.”