Calls for more grit bins

Calls have been made for a review of how Norfolk County Council replenishes grit bins, after claims some of them across the county have not been refilled often enough in the cold snap.

Calls have been made for a review of how Norfolk County Council replenishes grit bins, after claims some of them across the county have not been refilled often enough in the cold snap.

Councillors who had received complaints pressed for the issue to be added as an urgent item at a county council meeting this week where they called for an urgent review of pavement gritting.

The county council has spent more than �1m so far this winter on gritting and snow clearance, but the meeting of the council's planning, transportation, environment and waste overview scrutiny panel heard claims that, in the icy spell around Christmas the grit bins in market towns were not replenished enough.

Tim East, county councillor for Costessey and Liberal Democrat spokesman for planning and transportation, led the calls for a review.

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He said: “Regrettably, the strategically located bins were not replenished with grit once they had been emptied. When the county council doesn't frequently top them up in severe weather conditions, empty grit bins are useless for treating side streets and pavements.

“Once again it is the disabled, frail, vulnerable, elderly and others who are most exposed to danger whilst those cocooned in their cars get most protection from the elements. Pedestrians pay their taxes the same as motorists and deserve equal treatment and protection.”

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Andrew Boswell, leader of the Green party group at County Hall, said he wanted to see a database created of the locations of gritboxes and suggested volunteer 'grit wardens' in parishes should report to the county council when the boxes need refilling.

He said: “We will carefully scrutinise how the ruling Conservatives respond to our calls. Pavement gritting needs to be taken much more seriously.”

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said the council's winter maintenance priority gave the highest priority to A and B roads, heavily trafficked C roads and main access roads to villages, along with main shopping footways in Norwich, King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth.

He praised the council's winter workforce for the work they have done so far and said part of the difficulty over the Christmas period was that the snowploughs, which needed to be used to clear main roads, needed two people to operate, which meant there was little resource left for lower priority work, such as gritting pavements.

The panel agreed to look into how the system could be improved, but Beverley Spratt, Conservative county councillor for West Depwade division said most parish councils already notified County Hall when grit bins were low anyway.

At a meeting of Reepham Town Council on Wednesday night, James Joyce, Lib Dem county councillor for the Reepham division said: “I hope people notice that salt bins are running out. They can go and tell the parish clerk and it will be refilled.”

Meanwhile, frozen pavements in Wells could be gritted by the town council next winter after its members agreed to explore the possibility of running an independent service.

Town clerk Keith Leesmith told a council meeting on Monday that he had received numerous complaints about ungritted side roads and pavements during the ongoing cold snap.

He said one solution could be for the town to buy its own salting equipment and town councillors agreed to research the cost of the scheme.

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