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Need for salt 'far outstrips' ability of suppliers

Commenting on the publication of the final independent report into winter resilience, Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the Economy and Transport Board at the Local Government Association, said:

“It is again being confirmed that the problems with keeping the roads clear over the past two winters were caused by fundamental flaws in the ability of salt suppliers to meet their orders. The need for salt far outstrips the capacity of the virtual monopoly that councils depend upon to keep our roads moving during severe weather.

“Suggesting minimum salt stocks held by councils should be dramatically increased is ridiculous when it is clearer now than ever before that the suppliers are completely incapable of delivering on such a scale. It will be nigh on impossible for councils to make more funds available to deal with snow and ice when the overall budget for road maintenance is being cut by over £160 million - the total sum spent annually on winter services.

“Some councils preparing for this winter have already found salt suppliers are failing to meet their orders. Although there should be a few weeks’ grace before gritting is necessary on a large scale, it is not ideal that the suppliers are playing catch-up from the word go.

“Councils all over the country are making their own arrangements to make salt go further and a growing number are looking into foreign sources of salt. The salt suppliers need to get much better at telling councils about what they can realistically deliver. It’s a long-running problem that councils have not been able to get accurate information about what they are going to be provided with or when.”

The Department for Transport has also today issued a common sense guide to advise people on clearing snow and ice. Cllr Box added:

“When extreme weather grips the country councils do everything they can to keep roads open and essential services on track but everybody can help. Dealing with the full might of mother nature is not something town halls can do alone.

“The fact that the spectre of no-win-no-fee lawyers apparently scared some public-spirited people last winter and put them off helping out is a sad indictment of the compensation culture. Councils argued that the law needed to be clarified so that good Samaritans had this fear lifted, and we are very pleased that the government has issued the necessary advice as we head towards another winter.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The Final Report of the Review of the Resilience of England’s Transport Systems to Severe Winter Weather has been published at:
http://transportwinterresilience.independent.gov.uk/

An LGA survey conducted for the start of gritting season on October 1st found around 1 in 5 councils had not received all the salt stocks they had ordered:
http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=14032715

Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: LGA Media Team, Tel: 020 7664 3333

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