Extra gritting routes agreed for Dereham
Gritting trucks will serve three extra residential roads in Dereham this winter after county transport officials reacted to complaints from hundreds of stranded householders and bus users.
Last year's severe icy weather rendered many of Norfolk's roads impassable as gritting teams focused their resources on the main 'Priority One' routes.
But, while Dereham's main access roads and central shopping areas were gritted, there were problems in lower-priority areas such as Scarning, Humbletoft and Moorgate Road, which became inaccessible to local bus services.
After an appeal from residents and councillors, the Priority One route will be extended this winter to include Girling Road, Wavell Road and Wordsworth Drive on the Humbletoft estate.
Town representatives said it was good news for the many Humbletoft residents who relied on cars or public transport to get to work, schools or medical appointments during the worst of winter.
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But many other more isolated communities will have to be content with the same level of service they received last year: most similar requests have been turned down because of the cash constraints at Norfolk County Council.
Diana Irving, county councillor for Dereham North, said: 'After two particularly harsh winters when residents found themselves unable to venture out safely, it is excellent news that, after a long campaign and a hefty audit trail of emails following numerous complaints and concerns from residents, the main estate road which serves over 1,000 households and bus route will be gritted.'
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County council transport spokesman John Birchall said the Dereham request had been accepted because it included a bus route with particularly steep inclines that was used by many people.
'We received a number of requests last winter to add additional stretches of roads to the priority gritting network,' he said. 'While there was no prospect of adding any significant mileage to gritting routes, it has been possible to include Girling Road, Wavell Road and Wordsworth Drive in Dereham to the Priority One gritting schedule.
'We are sorry that we have had to refuse most other requests, but we are keen to help communities help themselves and will fill grit bins provided at agreed locations by local councils.'
Mr Birchall said gritting routes were only amended after a careful review, since each run covered about a third of the Norfolk's roads, at a cost of �30,000 per run. Last winter, the county council spent �4m on treating roads.
Dereham Town Council has also approved 11 new grit bins, which will be positioned in areas requested by residents on the remaining roads not covered by the main priority gritting routes. Details are:
?Two outside the George Hotel on Swaffham Hill
?Chase Court / Quebec Road junction
?Highfield Road / Cemetery Road junction
?Dale Road / Sandy Lane junction
?St Hilda Road
?George Eliot Way
?De Narde Road / Quebec Road junction
Phillip Duigan, county councillor for Dereham South and also a member of the town council, said: 'We had a list of about 50 possible places, but we've whittled it down to eight, plus the three which were approved last year. In subsequent years we may be able to do more if the budget allows.'
On the extension of the Dereham gritting route, Mr Duigan said: 'This is great news for Dereham. Humbletoft is an area which I know the town council has been very keen to see served better. I've always said that any money invested in Dereham is never wasted.'