DITHERING ministers who failed to act for months on advice about preparing for extreme weather contributed to this winter’s road chaos, it was claimed yesterday
And when the bad weather finally hit last month, Government guidance to councils on how much salt they should have in stock – six days’ worth – was woefully inadequate given that the UK is experiencing one of the worst winters in 100 years.
A report for the Government completed in July and published in early August made 19 recommendations on what preparations should be made to ensure Britain’s roads kept moving in the event of a severe winter.
The UK Roads Liaison Group, drawn from national and local government, had been asked to report on the lessons of last winter’s long cold snap which culminated in February in serious problems and saw many salt supplies almost exhausted.
But it took until December 15 for the Government to issue its response – just two days before the forecast first snows of this winter hit.
Shadow Local Government and Communities Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Had ministers acted on this important report in July, preparations would have been a great deal better but sadly the Government sat on its hands for five months, only taking limited action in late December, 48 hours before the snow began to fall.’’
Ms Spelman later secured an emergency Commons debate, in which she praised councils for “working round the clock to keep Britain moving’’ but said the Government’s delay in responding to the report had “compromised’’ their ability to implement all its recommendations.
She asked whether the Government planned to revise its guidance of last month that councils should have six days’ salt in stock given forecasts of continuing problems.
But Transport Minister Sadiq Khan accused the Tories of spreading “despondency’’. He urged people to “keep a sense of perspective’’ given the country was battling the worst weather for 30 years.
Mr Khan insisted councils had not needed an official Government response to act on the UKRLG’s recommendations and said some had built up enough salt for 69 days.
He told Ms Spelman: “Some may say one of the reasons you are pointing the finger at central government is that many of those local authorities are Conservative-run.’’
The Highways Agency’s 500 salt spreaders and snowploughs had kept the “vast majority’’ of major routes open and councils estimated that 600,000 miles of roads had been gritted in the previous four days using 38,500 tonnes of salt.
Councils, who look after local roads, yesterday warned they were being forced to ration gritting as they awaited fresh salt deliveries.
Also: Read this report from the Daily Mail
Now we're running out of grit: Councils forced to ration dwindling supplies as Britain faces weekend of chaos
Britain's two salt mines work round the clock to cope with unprecedented demand
Government accused of failing to make adequate provision for deep freeze
Death toll rises to six after pensioner's frozen body is discovered in back garden
Man, 29, in 'critical condition' after sleighing down hill on mattress in middle of night
Police investigate claim man emptied grit bin and tried to sell contents to neighbours
Tragedy of schoolboy, 16, killed on A1 after his mother gave friend a lift as a favour
Britain's gritting stocks reached crisis point today as the worst winter freeze for 30 years pushed them perilously close to depletion.
With forecasters predicting fresh falls of snow this weekend, motorists face deadly conditions on roads across the country. Many councils have already been forced to ration salt supplies.
The Arctic temperatures - which reached minus 22C overnight - have also prompted a political storm as the Government was accused of being inadequately prepared.
Click above link to read FULL report from the Daily Mail
Source Link: express.co.uk