New Dewsbury Riverside development will not be on council's gritting routes

Significant new housing developments across Kirklees - including the Dewsbury Riverside scheme - will not be gritted as part of winter maintenance services, council chiefs have revealed.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 7:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 7:34 pm
A Kirklees Council gritting wagon

They said they had neither the manpower nor the vehicles to expand capacity over and above where it currently is.

The news was greeted with disappointment by one leading Tory, who said new home-owners paying council tax had a right to receive a service like their neighbours.

Coun John Taylor, the deputy leader of the Conservative group on Kirklees Council, referenced “significant” housing schemes at Bradley – 1,200 homes – and at Dewsbury Riverside, where more than 4,000 homes are planned over 20 years, which he likened to “practically a small town”.

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Artist's impressions of the Dewsbury Riverside development

He commented: “What we’re saying is, ‘We’ve no plans to do any gritting in any of those new developments’.

“Are we clear with new people that when they move into the district whether to tell them they’re on their own?”

The council’s service director for environment, Sue Procter, confirmed that the authority doesn’t specifically look at new planning developments when planning its gritting schedule.

She said there were “no plans” to put new housing estates on gritting routes, a policy she described as “pretty common across the country”.

She added: “It’s not something that the service decides on a whim. It is a really hard choice to make.

“There’s a limit to the capacity.

“No-one says that it’s perfect. We do as much as we can within the resources that we’ve got.

“We simply do not have the manpower or the vehicles to grow the service.”

Coun Taylor said the response was “unacceptable” and described as “a red herring” a comment that some new housing estates were served by management companies that carried out gritting.

He pointed out that roads running through new developments were adopted highways and as such were the responsibility of the local council to maintain.

His party colleague Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) questioned whether the council’s winter maintenance policy was “fit for purpose”.

The news about gritting came as a report on the council’s £1.8m winter maintenance policy was presented to the economy and neighbourhoods scrutiny panel today (Tuesday).

Officers said they anticipated running a 27-week schedule beginning on October 18 and lasting until mid-April.

It will deal with 1,200 miles of network in the borough, of which 53 per cent will be gritted.

The focus will be on main roads, main bus routes and steep roads accessing main roads with a “severe weather priority” on life-and-limb emergency services including approaches to hospitals, health centres and residential/care homes.

The council will also look to support the two key town centres plus 60 towns and villages as well as Covid-related locations such as PPE stores and testing stations.

It has 25,000 tonnes of rock salt in stock, as well as more than 1,400 grit bins – more than in neighbouring authority areas – across the district, which will be filled at least three times between October and the spring of 2022.

Officers stressed that gritting services will be for adopted highway and not private streets.

As well as operating its own staffed service, the council works with 24 community gritting teams with people “stepping up” to assist in very severe weather.