Win­ter grit­ting plan con­demned

The Oban Times - - News -

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:

Ben Thompson

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