As we reported at the end of January, during the recent snow and ice we saw a number of Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) on previously-treated routes plus road closures and traffic disruption. Last year, despite warnings from opposition councillors, Somerset County Council cut a sizeable part of the network that is treated with grit in the event of cold weather.
So despite the passionate insistence that the roads had been gritted and that the change to the gritting patterns had not contributed to the chaos, we were interested to read that Somerset County Council, at its Cabinet meeting today, Monday 11th February, looks set to reverse those cuts.
Cllr Mike Rigby, Opposition Spokesman for Transportation and Councillor for the Lydeard Division told us he had been handed reports of many vehicles sliding out of control onto the A358 from Bishops Lydeard and collisions in the village. His childrens’ school bus was struck by a car that lost control on a road where gritting had been abandoned. Cllr Rigby was also informed that by 11.00 am on Wednesday 30th January, the Police were not able to summon ambulances to RTCs, they were so numerous in number.
On Friday SCC included in a report for Cabinet proposals to reverse the cuts to the gritting programme.
Cllr Rigby told us “…We will need to keep a close eye on how this proceeds though and ensure that the reinstatement occurs THIS winter and that road users are not kept waiting until next winter – the long-range forecast suggests another cold spell in 2 weeks’ time and the public will not forgive the council if its gritting plan falls apart like a cheap suit again.”
Cllr Rigby has also asked for answers as to why those routes that WERE gritted during Tuesday 29th January’s fairly light snowfall quickly became impassable with RTCs on the A39 at Kilve and the A358 at Flaxpool.