Reducing road gritting capacity is not a safe move - McMullan
Sinn Féin MLA for East Antrim, Oliver McMullan, has called on the Regional Development Minister to explain the contradiction of reducing the number of personnel and machines used to grit roads across the north while being able to meet safety concerns that all routes will be reached in times of bad weather.
Speaking today Mr McMullan said:
“I asked the regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy, would he ensure that the Winter Service Route Optimisation Programme, which deals with the gritting of roads, will be rural proofed.
“His response was quite alarming and in my opinion could lead to increase road safety concerns at times of poor weather.
“Essentially Danny Kennedy stated that the current number of routes for gritting would not be reduced but personnel and machines may well be.
“Given the fact that addressing bad weather is time limited and there is an urgency on getting roads gritted in a short window as temperatures fall and snow and ice accumulate it is clear that some roads, especially in rural areas may not be gritted in time.
“There have been occasions where so-called snap freezes or snow falls are not predicted in time be weather forecasts. Can the minister be confident that he can stand over his claims that all roads will be reached with less staff and machines employed?
“There is a huge responsibility on the minister to ensure that peoples lives are not endangered. Going on recent form where grass verges at major junction have been allowed to overgrow obscuring sightlines on our roads people will be rightly concerned about this latest move.”