Friday, 1 February 2013

Grit bins across Hyndburn

With the winter wether arriving gritting has cropped up as an issue. I have received correspondence regarding extra grit bins in Hyndburn. The official reply from LCC is that there is a limited supply and they must be allocated according to specific criteria to avoid any risk of litigation.It is a very frustrating issue, one that I have tried to resolve in various ways over the last few years

1. Blue Box Scheme. This was a scheme I began which never got off the ground despite a lot of effort that essentially allowed residents, community groups, local councillors to buy a grit bin and for them to be charged when it needed refilling by LCC. Lancashire County Council where quite co-operative however they insisted on public liability insurance due to the ambulance chasing solicitors. In short there are real concerns that some malicious people would cross the road deliberately just to fall over the blue box so they could make a claim. There are also issues around neighbourhood disputes as some residents feel it is their right to steal grit from boxes, any boxes to grit their drive or for other personal use empting the grit box unnecessarily and selfishly leaving community groups with a costly headache. That scheme is still on hold as there seems no way around greedy selfish individuals who would abuse the benefits.

2. More grit. Back in 2009 I led the public campaign about LCC making false savings by under storing grit – Keith Young the Cabinet member was forced to resign as a result of the fiasco. LCC had only stored some 16,000 tonnes in the brand new LCC silos capable of holding much more. This year they have 30,000 tonnes stored. This allows them to do the bus routes more frequently and ensure grit bins do not lie empty once reported as empty as occurred in 2009 when grit boxes were not refilled from November through to March.

3. I have spoken to the District Council who have a gritter for gritting refuse routes but which in the past has been laid up due to a lack of processed grit held by LCC. Budget cuts have also resulted in a lack of a driver and I have asked Munsif Dad, the Cabinet member responsible at Hyndburn to look into this matter.

It is very frustrating that dangerous streets are not gritted as they become very dangerous at times. It is also frustrating there is not some flexibility in the system where County Councillors can request streets be gritted. Under Keith Young, all decisions where centralised to save money (and grit). I have done everything I can to make the system more responsive to residents needs. It is about time elected members could prioritise gritting ion their wards.