‘Grit your own bit and save us cash’
Providing shovels and salt would save £650K
Ruling SNP councillors have shunned spending cash on gritting more pavements this winter and urged people to “grit their own bit”.
Councillor Iain McLaren told a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council on Monday that residents will be encouraged through social media to contact the authority asking for shovels and salt to clear their streets, making them safer for all.
This is rather than committing almost £ 650,000 of cash to staff and equipment to grit the pavements, as requested by West Dunbartonshire Community Party councillor Jim Bollan.
Opposition leader Martin Rooney accused the administration of missing the brunt of the bad weather this winter by deferring the issue to the budget consultation in February.
Meanwhile West Dunbartonshire Community Party councillor Jim Bollan, who received 71 comments from people on social media in one night last winter as a result of extreme icy conditions particularly in Bonhill and Beechwood, warned that pedestrians must be protected as well as those using the roads.
Councillor Iain McLaren tabled a motion proposing that extending the winter footpath gritting be taken to the public while consulting on the budget setting for next year.
And the successful motion agreed that the council’ s press office will use press releases and social media to “inform residents of the availability of gr it bins and other resources that the council provides and how residents can use these effectively to tackle problems associated with winter weather”.
The councillor confirmed that the authority is currently fulfilling its obligation under legislation adding: “We are asking for people who are able to help us out. They can request grit, gr it bins, some shovels and other things from the council.
“What we are asking the community to do is save the council some money and grit their own bit to provide best value.”
We reported earlier this year how four buses were stranded on black ice in Bonhill for hours as travel firms struggled to contact the council for gritting help.
Dumbarton-based company McColls, who had a bus stuck at the top of the hill, had to resort to sending the local authority a tweet after failing to contact them on the phone.
Meanwhile passengers were forced to get off the stuck buses and walk home in the slippery conditions.
A council spokeswoman said at the time the authority was “fully prepared” for the weather and that they“re acted quickly and tackled our busiest roads first as well as priority areas such as Bonhill”.
Councillor Jim Bollan tabled an amendment asking for council reserves to be used to meet costs of £ 645,292 over the next two years to increase the number of pavements gritted.
He said: “Safety of the young people and elderly people in our housing estates is critical. Our gritting programme favours, quite rightly in a lot of respects, the road network but that then leaves access to our housing estates in a terrible condition.
“In one night, I had 71 contacts on social media from people who were either stranded in their house or couldn’t walk along their pavement to shop or to get a bus. People taking children to nursery in the morning couldn’t because it was too dangerous to go along the pavements.”
Martin Rooney added: “The only way to resolve this is to commit more resources over this winter and learn for the future.”
Councillors agreed Councillor McLaren’ s motion.
Social media will be used to encourage people to clear their areas of ice and snow