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County council: we could have done more but we have enough grit

Gritting lorry video placeholder
Gritting lorry video placeholder

by political editor Paul Francis

County road chiefs say they have enough grit to keep Kent's major roads clear for about a fortnight despite growing fears of widespread shortages.

But Kent County Council has admitted that if the wintry spell continues, it may have to consider gritting fewer roads to preserve supplies.

And the politician in charge has conceded that more should have been done to treat pavements and town centres.

Cllr Nick Chard, KCC's cabinet member for highways, said: "The week before Christmas, we did not do as good a job as we should have and I hold my hand up to that. What we have done in the last week is to make sure that pavements in the town centres are safer for people to walk on.

"We have very good provision. But if the weather continues like this for weeks and weeks, we - like other councils - are going to have problems."

Asked how many days' worth of grit the authority had left, he said: "It is quite difficult to judge exactly, but probably a fortnight, which is a lot better than many other councils."

There was no immediate question of scaling back the gritting operation across Kent to preserve supplies but that had not been ruled out.

Cllr Chard added: "We are still doing what we need to do to keep traffic moving and to keep the main routes clear. If we get to a very serious situation then we may well look at treating fewer roads. But we are not at that position yet."

It was likely that orders placed by the authority for more supplies would be delayed if the Government, as expected, takes steps to ensure areas with more serious problems and shortages were re-stocked first.

"We have heard that the cabinet office is going to ask suppliers to make sure that those areas that need salt the most get it first. That is quite reasonable. We have orders outstanding but we do understand that there are areas that do not have the [level of] supplies we do," he said.

He accepted that criticism of KCC over its failure to do enough to treat pavements and town centres had been valid.

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