Winter gritting plan condemned
A LOCHABER councillor has condemned the Highland authority’s winter gritting policy, despite being a member of the administration which wrote it.
Ben Thompson blasted amended route plans at Lochaber area committee last week after four roads in the area were given lower priority than last year, as part of policy changes.
The Caol Mallaig Independent councillor complained that roads in Glengarry, Spean Bridge, Ardgour and Polloch had been demoted from ‘secondary’ to ‘other’, meaning they will no longer be classed as a priority for gritting following policy changes by his party’s minority administration. This is due to a reduction in the size of school buses using the roads.
According to the new guidelines, a bus must ferry nine or
and more pupils for the road to be considered a school bus route.
At the Lochaber meeting last Tuesday Mr Thompson called the amendments ‘a farce’: ‘This changing of routes every year and dumping them into another category appears that we’re doing that just so we can say that we are meeting the policy.
‘From the public’s perspective, that stinks. We shouldn’t be doing that. I think this is a farce and what greatly concerns me is the point about - are we achieving the policy? Every year the number of secondary roads is getting smaller and smaller. What we’re setting out to cover changes from year to year. It looks to the public that what we’re effectively doing is changing the area that we want to cover to fit the budget.’
Fellow Lochaber councillors agreed the policy should be re- examined and referred it back to the administration.
Council leader Margaret Davidson said the policy would be examined with the help of the community services committee. She said: ‘ We inherited a budget from the last administration that the Independent group disagreed with and voted against. I agree with Ben because no- one wants to do these things but we have been left with a very difficult budget. I’m going to look at exactly what we can do about this alongside Allan Henderson [chairman of community services] who is a Lochaber man so knows the issues with rural roads in winter.’
Lochaber pavement clearing concern
LOCHABER pavements could be left icy and covered in snow this winter, as it was revealed that just half the equipment required to grit walkways was available.
Cameron Kemp, one of Highland council’s community services managers, told Lochaber area committee there were currently just two pavement tractors available for the whole area, compared to the usual four or five.
Brian Murphy, councillor for Fort William and Ardnamurchan, raised his concerns about the issue and asked if more would be made available in time for winter.
There are currently 48 pavement tractors in the Highland council area.
Mr Kemp replied: ‘We will need to query that and investigate if we can get that for an even distribution.’
UNHAPPY AT GRITTING PLANS: