Winter Weather Statement – Robin Parker 17/12/2017

During the recent snow and ice conditions, as usual I received queries from residents about treatment of roads and pavements and I would like to clarify some facts.

The highways authority is the Conservative dominated Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) and they are responsible for nearly all the highways (roads and pavements) in Hertfordshire. The Labour dominated Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) is responsible for the town centre and neighbourhood shops.

As the major opposition group at HCC, the Liberal Democrats have asked repeatedly over the years for more resources to be spent on winter treatment, but this has been denied by the Tory majority.

Put the search term ‘Gritting routes’ in the HCC website and you will see a map which can be zoomed in for local detail. It shows that, for gritting, HCC have priority routes shown in red (main roads, bus routes) – which are done first – and secondary routes shown in blue (main estate routes) – which are done if and when the priority routes are all done. The trouble is that they rarely if ever get to the secondary routes – and also they have refused our requests to extend the routes. I and my Lib Dem colleagues have criticised this and want it changed.

Put the search term ‘Salt bins’ in the HCC website and there is a similar map showing the locations of the HCC owned bins. The page also confirms that no new salt bins will be provided by HCC. Also, they will not allow any private bins on the highway. They do refill the existing (approx.1100) bins but this takes about a fortnight.

In years gone by, I have been able to provide additional salt bins, but this was stopped – another victim of Tory cuts, which the Lib Dems opposed.

I do check bins in my Chells area. They were full in the autumn, but as expected they are now often empty. The salt in the bins is of course provided for use only on the public highway, not private property.

Put the search term ‘Winter self help’ in the HCC website and you will see details of the one and only improvement in recent years – groups of residents can ask their local county councillor to confirm that they are a bona fide group and then HCC will (once a year in November) deliver up to 34 x 20kg bags of salt for use on the public highway.

I have done my best to publicise the ‘Winter self help’ scheme locally in my leaflets, and a few groups have applied, but despite my annual request for them to do so, HCC always fail to give the scheme full publicity and merely leave it hidden away on their website.

I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking the many operatives – a number of whom are volunteers – who go out in awful conditions to operate the snow ploughs and gritters. With the limited resources given to them by HCC, they generally do a good job.