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Southend Council chief: gritters not to blame for snow chaos
8:00am Thursday 14th March 2013 in Echo News
SOUTHEND’S gritters were not to blame for the gridlock that brought the town to a standstill.
Tony Cox, the Tory councillor responsible for transport at Southend Council, defended his team’s actions yesterday and claimed no more could have been done to prevent the chaos on the roads.
Citing temperatures that dropped to nearly -10C in the wind, he said the weather had conspired against the town’s commuters.
Mr Cox said: “I totally understand people’s frustrations - I spent two hours trying to get from Cuckoo Corner to Shoebury.
“However, I will defend the gritters to the hilt.
“They were out all weekend and have been out all night doing the best job they possibly can.”
The council has four gritting trucks to treat the borough’s roads, and three quad bikes fitted with special salt dispensers to tackle pavements and pedestrianised areas.
It has a list of “priority roads” which it treats first, although the order in which that happens and the quantity of salt used is dependent on weather reports and information from police.
Under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, the authority has a legal duty “to ensure, so far as reasonable practicable, the safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow and ice”.
However, it is not required to treat all roads or pavements within the borough.
Salt stocks are usually built up before the winter, but Mr Cox said there was no shortfall before Monday’s snowfall.
However, he pointed out wet weather during the morning meant the council was unable to send out its trucks out until the afternoon, as grit washes off damp surfaces.
He said: “We acted over the weekend and as soon as we could on Monday, but the wet weather was an issue.
“The wind chill was also a factor and, once the gridlock set in, the gritters were as trapped as other vehicles.
“I appreciate that people have said roads elsewhere were not as bad, but in my opinion that had nothing to do with the gritting system.
“We did exactly what we have done all winter - Southend simply copped it on this occasion.”