Sheffield grit cut consultation cost £3K - a third of bin saving

Ice on the road and path on Linburn Road, Woodseats. Picture: Andrew Roe
Ice on the road and path on Linburn Road, Woodseats. Picture: Andrew Roe
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Consultation on Sheffield Council’s controversial winter cuts cost £3,417 - equivalent to a third of what was saved by axing grit bins.

Information obtained under The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign confirmed the cost of asking people last summer what they thought of plans to reduce the number of roads gritted and grit bins.

The agreed proposal would have saved £100,000 to help meet Government cuts, but the council reversed its changes to gritting after an icy weekend in December resulted in several collisions, a gritter overturning and people raising concerns that lives were at risk.

However the removal of 121 grit bins, and relocation of others, still stands.

Walkley resident Stan Fichele, whose request for information revealed removing grit bins saved £10,000, said: “It was a daft saving - it wasn’t worth the risk.

“The whole episode has been ill thought out and pointless. However, it’s symptomatic of the immense pressure being exerted by central Governments cuts.”

Grit bin removal came under fire again last week as residents struggled to get about due to pavements remaining clogged with ice after the last snow.

Some said the lack of easy access to a grit bin meant they could not treat roads.

Hospital chiefs also said 180 people were treated for falls on one weekend - 40 per cent more than on an average winter weekend.

A petition against grit bin cuts, started by Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg, now has more than 3,000 signatures. It aims to get 5,000 to trigger a public debate.

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg said: “This just shows what an utter shambles Labour’s policy has become.

“First they U-turned on gritting plans and now it turns out removing the grit bins saves just £57 each.

“Labour councillors spent millions on refurbishing council offices so the idea that Sheffield Council won’t spend £7,000 keeping roads and pavements in the city safe is frankly shameful.

”It’s time they did the decent thing and put bins back as people are getting hurt.”

When asked if she thought the cut had been worth it, the council’s cabinet member for environment Coun Jayne Dunn said: “I think we had to look at it and Derbyshire Council has done the same.”

She said the gritting cut in Sheffield was ‘much lower’ than other regions. The council will look at other savings after the U-turn.

Coun Dunn said: “That’s my job and will be part of the next budget. I think Sheffield has done a good job of managing budget cuts, now there is no flesh left, we are down to the bone.