Norfolk County Council is defended, as grit bins across Norfolk are restocked ahead of predicted further snow

Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich.  Photo: Bill Smith Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, January 18, 2013
6:30 AM

Grit bins have been restocked around Norfolk in preparation for the further snow predicted to fall today.

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Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich.  Photo: Bill SmithStefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Norfolk County Council has been criticised by some for not ensuring roads and footpaths remained clear in the aftermath of this week’s heavy snowfall.

Graham Plant, the councillor in charge of Norfolk’s response to the winter weather, revealed he had calls to his home saying he should resign and an internal review of how the authority handled the situation is also planned.

Richard Hayes, president of the Institute of Highways Engineers (IHE) told the EDP: “It is difficult for local authorities because if they spend a fortune and had enough gritters to handle the situation then people will be saying, why have they spent that sort of money when this sort of weather happens once in 20 years?

“They can’t win really. As always, it is a fine balance to get right.”

Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Cringleford.  Photo: Bill SmithStefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Cringleford. Photo: Bill Smith

IHE is planning to launch a professional certificate and training course for engineers responsible for winter operations in a new scheme to be launched later this year.

Mr Hayes continued: “We work with individuals making these decisions to ensure their competency. Often at councils nowadays the experienced guys are no longer there, so we are trying to make sure the expertise is maintained.

“There was a 2010-11 review of these issues that found better use of modern technology is needed but there is no specific industry body for winter maintainance workers, so that is the need we are trying to meet.”

With more snow expected this afternoon the county council yesterday targeted all remaining highway resources to refilling grit bins, in addition to continued road gritting efforts.

Mr Plant, the county council’s cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “We have launched an all-out effort to restock bins ahead of the forecast snow.

“Many parish and town councils have paid for grit bins, and these were filled at the start of the winter by the county council. These have been very well used over recent days, so we are doing everything we can to refill them.

“It is important that grit from these bins is only used on the highway. It must not be taken for use on private paths and driveways.”

Council bosses are urging people to make use of grit bins to rid pavements outside their homes of snow and ice as conditions continued to prove troublesome for pedestrians yesterday, w

Norwich City Council said it aimed to clear footways in the commercial area of the city centre and foot bridges crossing ring roads.

The authority has asked its contractors to treat approaches to crossing points.

At Norfolk County Council, spokesman Steve Sanders said: “We do grit pavements where we can and we have gritted in some places including the key shopping areas in King’s Lynn and Norwich. They are on our priority routes.

“We are encouraging people to grit pavements where they can.

“The other thing we do is we have worked with town councils to provide training and help for volunteer groups for gritting. Swaffham is a good example.”

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