Council spent over £3.8m to keep roads open

ANGUS Council spent more than £3.8 million keeping the county on the move during last winter’s severe weather.

And at Tuesday’s meeting of the infrastructure services committee it outlined how it intends to prepare for the future.

A report indicated that the challenge of keeping roads and streets clear during the snow and sub-zero temperatures cost the authority more than £3.8 million.

This was an overspend of £1.7 million on the cash allocated for winter maintenance, funding which will be found from the council’s existing financial resources.

During the winter, the council used approximately 18,350 tonnes of salt and 4,500 tonnes of grit to treat the county’s roads and pavements.

To ensure the authority is prepared to deal with another severe winter, salt stocks will be increased to 19,000 tonnes in 2011/12.

To encourage more self-help in communities the council has invested in an extra 100 grit bins, taking the total to 600 across Angus. This will allow more people to treat public areas, such as communal steps and steep inclines in their communities, which may not otherwise be treated as they are non-priority routes.

Committee convener David May said that council’s priority would remain the delivery of a high standard of winter roads maintenance.

He continued: “Despite the extreme weather, winter maintenance continued to be carried out to the agreed standard within Angus during 2010/11.

“It is vital for communities and businesses that we endeavour to keep the county moving in the event of severe winter weather. To meet this challenge, the council has committed an extra £400,000 to the winter maintenance budget for 2011/12, to tackle conditions which appear to be getting more extreme year on year.

“The support of the community is vital to help us deal with the effects of severe weather, and part of this extra investment will go towards providing another 100 grit bins across Angus.”

Councillor Bob Spink, a member of the infrastructure service committee, commented: “All of us are aware of the effects of last winter’s severe weather and realise how difficult it is to forecast this with any accuracy from one year to the next.

“Nonetheless, this is what we must prepare for as best we can. When it turns out worse than expected we still must be able to cope and this is reflected in the additional funds that must be found from within already overstretched budgets.”

He continued: “What perhaps is less obvious is that the manpower required to maintain this extra level of service is another cost but this time a human one. We should be grateful and give thanks to those who are asked to do this work, usually in the worst of conditions and at all hours of the day and night and who put in hours usually regarded as ‘unsocial’.

“Not just the drivers, of course, but those who work in the depots loading road vehicles and those who do their utmost to keep pavements clear and essential services operating.

“Many are not aware that extra staff are seconded in emergencies from departments such as parks to reinforce this extra effort and they also should know their efforts are appreciated.

“It is not difficult to guess the price we would all have to pay if our emergency services were unable to cope. We should all accord them a big vote of thanks.”