Derry & Strabane reps raise concerns over grit box replenishing and untreated roads

Concerns over the lack of gritting in some areas and grit boxes not being replenished were raised at the recent meeting of Derry City and Strabane Environment and Regeneration Committee.

Proposing the Department for Infrastructure were contacted over issues raised, DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney said: “I’ve been long enough in council to know that there are roads that are gritted but residents have been complaining to me as to why the snow ploughs haven’t been out.

“I’ve listened to DfI on the media supporting the work that they have done but there have to be concerns. I’m hearing that the boxes and piles of salt or grit have not been replenished. In fact, some weren’t even replenished for the last time when we had the adverse frost for a number of days.

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“I’m sure every elected member’s inbox is full in relation to certain areas. I would like to propose that we write to DfI calling on them to replenish the salt and grit piles straight away.”

Grit box. (File picture)

Echoing the comments, People Before Profit councillor Maeve O’Neill added: “I know the DfI Roads workers have been working to full capacity but I think the key issue for them is the funding and resource that’s going into the winter response for DfI.

“It’s an example of how cuts to public services are impacting everyday life. There needs to be greater resources going into grit boxes and there needs to be more grit boxes in local communities and there needs to be more snowploughs.”

UUP Alderman Derek Hussey said that this time he was concerned with the ‘speed of the response when the situation arose’.

“It comes back to the question of resources the Western Division has and this has been questioned before, particularly with regard to gritting, especially when you consider the vast rural nature of our council area,” he said.

“When we write to them can we ask for some clarity as to the criteria for getting a road gritted.”

SDLP councillor Steven Edwards spoke about the ‘real issue’ with rural roads having been contacted by a number of carers who were unable to get to their patients.

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He commented: “I was contacted by one lady whose car got stuck in a development and rather than let her next patient down she got out and walked miles before having to get a taxi home and was out a lot of money. These human stories resonate with me and it brings into question the wider issues around grit.”

Stating that it was important the issue was discussed at these meetings because requests to get salt bins refilled since December ‘don’t seem to happen’, Sinn Féin councillor Emma McGinley said: “We understand the Western Division are working at capacity but it doesn’t take away from the human stories that councillor Edwards referred to.

“I’ve had a number of issues here in Creggan. It’s quite a hilly area and people are literally stuck in their houses because they don’t want to end up sliding down the hill.”

Council will now write to the Western Division Roads Manager with the issues raised by members.

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Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter