Council officers in Kirklees have admitted they have slashed the amount of grit spread on the roads by HALF.

Three weeks after the Examiner reported the claims of former gritter driver David Braithwaite, council officers have now confirmed that less grit is going on the roads.

At a meeting with Colne Valley councillors David Ridgway and Donna Bellamy yesterday, a council officer told them that the amount of grit spread had been cut from 40g per sq metre to just 20g.

And that policy had been approved 18 months ago.

As public anger continues over a lack of gritting, particularly on the higher routes around Marsden, a political row has erupted.

Liberal Democrat Clr Ridgway and Tory Clr Bellamy turned on Kirklees Council’s Labour rulers.

Opposition councillors challenged Clr Steve Hall, the Cabinet member responsible, at the last full council meeting but failed to get a proper explanation.

Clr Ridgway said: “This is a typical example of the lazy manner in which the Labour Cabinet runs the authority.

“We have engaged closely and carefully with council officers over many years but only now do residents find out that the system has completely changed.”

Clr Bellamy said the new system had been accepted 18 months ago and added: “The reduction in grit means the standard is not what the public expect and driving on snow and ice will be more dangerous.”

 

The Examiner reported the claims of former gritter driver Mr Braithwaite who revealed the amount of grit used had been slashed, the number of vehicles reduced and gritting rounds extended.

The council would not confirm the change but instead said it was complying with a new “national code of practice.”

On Sunday a woman driver had a lucky escape on the Standedge Cutting at Marsden when her Citroen Picasso skidded off the road, spun round and ended up hanging over a 30ft drop.

Under the new policy, the council will carry out a second grit if it continues snowing – but that has to be weighed against the cost of diesel.

At the last full council, Crosland Moor and Netherton Labour councillor Molly Walton, 80, branded the council’s critics “d***heads”.

With temperatures expected to dip as low as -6C last night, Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney also went on the attack.

“I have been appalled at the council’s lack of co-ordination and communication over the gritting policy,” he said.

“The Labour Cabinet just wants to play politics and instead of bleating about it, making excuses and insulting people they should just get on with the job.

“Other local authorities like Oldham, Calderdale and Barnsley manage to do all right.

“We need a can do attitude from Kirklees rather than excuses and the blame game.”