Monday, 4 January 2010

Gritting (part rant / part considered)

Over the Christmas period and in recent days there have been a number of problems and complaints raised with me (and the other Cllr Mckeown) with regards to the gritting that has been done locally.

This year the general theme of these comments has been on how poor the service has been with at least up on Gamesley there been a number of days where there appears to have been little or no gritting on the estate with the knock on effect of this been that on a number of days over the last 3 weeks there have been no bus service locally.

In addition to the problems with the road gritting, there has also been the problems with footpath gritting which the borough used to do some of, but in an apparent season of good will gesture to the county the following press release was issued where the borough abandoned all responsibility for it and handed it back to the county :

“Highways officials back in charge of all gritting
Date: 22/12/2009

Derbyshire County Council has resumed responsibility for gritting roads and pavements across High Peak.

For several years, the Borough Council had gritted some roads and pavements for the county council, as well as clearing certain road gullies.

However, a service review by both councils has resulted in a recent decision for the county council to take the entire gritting service back in house. The borough will continue to clean gullies for the county.

The decision was taken before the recent severe weather started.

Requests for gritting should be made by telephoning the Call Derbyshire contact centre on (01629) 533190 and following the menu of instructions.”

Now my problem with this is that the decision for the council to abandon the service back to the county has been done without been reviewed through the select committee process (at least as far as I can see from the environment agendas) with the last time the issue of winter maintenance was discussed been in November 2008.

With the report that was discussed in November 2008, been essentially the same one that has discussed by the committee several times before (Nov 2001, Nov 2003, Nov 2004, and Feb 2007) detailing what streets the borough council would grit since 2001 when the former highways maintenance agency run by the borough council (and in turn locally run gritting) was handed back to the county.

Now whilst knowing the process doesn’t necessarily help with understanding where things have gone wrong this year. In terms of what the county does their website still lists that various routes (including in theory the locally bus routes that should be done as a priority) but it doesn’t include details (at least so far) on what’s gone wrong this year and in terms of the borough it doesn’t explain why we’ve stopped the imperfect (but at least something) system of pavement gritting and what the staff who would have done it are doing instead.

It also doesn’t explain to residents outside of the centre of Glossop how they can be paying the same council tax as residents in the centre of Glossop and be reading in the papers that the borough is doing no gritting but seeing in the centre of Glossop the clean team and associated staff gritting the pavements of central Glossop, all of which or at least the borough part (at least) I hope to hear a greater explanation on at the next meeting of the Environmental select committee where I’ve asked for issues around winter maintenance to be put on the agenda.

Perhaps looking at in a bypartisan way, it dosen't bode well for the new Conservative management at county, who along with there Conservative allies at the borough next want to run the country.

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