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Sheppey grit bins found empty in snow

By John Nurden

The lack of grit in many of Sheppey’s salt bins left a nasty taste in the mouth at the height of the cold spell.

One of the communities left cut-off by snow were 900 people in Bell Farm Lane, Minster.

Farmers John and Jayne Goodwin did their best to clear the lane with a digger but then found the salt bin at Chequers Road was empty.

Snow grit: Jayne Goodwin, Kenny Gibbard, Andrew Saunders, Mandy Burdick
Snow grit: Jayne Goodwin, Kenny Gibbard, Andrew Saunders, Mandy Burdick

Jayne, who runs an award-winning shire horse team with her husband, said: “We know it was bad for everyone and we weren’t a priority for Kent Highways because we aren’t on a ‘red route’ but we expected to find grit in the boxes.

“When we called to complain they just didn’t want to know. The lane ended up freezing over again after we had tried to clear it of snowdrifts.”

During the height of the snow, John gave a pharmacist a lift on his tractor to get essential drugs delivered to a housebound patient.

Farmer John Goodwin digs out the snow drifts in Bell Farm Lane, Minster
Farmer John Goodwin digs out the snow drifts in Bell Farm Lane, Minster

Minster parish council also reported empty salt bins. Clerk Trish Codrington said: We have asked Kent Highway Services for a list of all the bins in the parish. We want to double-check their list is up to date.

“We are also asking for an update on its actions prior to and during the period of adverse weather. We will review this information to ensure all Minster bin locations are properly serviced.”

According to reports, one bin at the top of Scocles Road was emptied by a resident for private use. Mrs Codrington said: “If this is true, it was a very selfish act and not appropriate.”

Snow joke: empty grit bins. Picture: Cameron Beart
Snow joke: empty grit bins. Picture: Cameron Beart

In Queenborough, resident Leanne Rowe went to grit paths on Tuesday and found both grit bins on the corner of Whiteway Road and North Road were empty. But the grit bin at Queenborough train station was full.

Swale councillor Cameron Beart (Queenborough and Halfway) said: “I advised her to use Kent Highways online reporting tool and I followed it up with an email to both Kent County Council and Swale council to request a gritter.

“By Saturday, both bins had been filled up and I understand Leanne then gritted the paths along North Road in front of the houses and Queenborough Club. Full credit to her for that, she is a typical example of the Queenborough community.”

Council gritters were also seen in the steep Admirals Walk, Banner Way and Highfield Road at Halfway.

Cllr Beart said: “I very much welcome this as I was told in September these roads were being removed from KCC's gritting routes due to the problems with parked cars.”

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