Council chiefs insist Sheffield has over ‘five times’ more grit bins than other cities – as residents say they are trapped in their homes by icy pavements.
A motion to Sheffield Council’s full council meeting by opposition councillors today says removing 121 bins to save £10,000 as part of budget cuts has made it more ‘difficult’ for people to treat roads and pavements themselves and calls for them to be returned.
Some residents say they have been stuck in their homes for days and more snow on high ground was predicted overnight.
Winnie Taylor, of Cricket Inn Crescent, Wybourn, said people could not treat the road themselves as the estate now only had three grit bins – one empty.
The 82-year-old said: “When it is icy cars cannot get up the road – it is like a sheet of glass.”
Coun Jayne Dunn, council cabinet member for environment, said Sheffield still had 1,900 grit bins, ‘five times more’ than the 180 in Manchester and 180 in Nottingham combined. Leeds has 1,300 bins.
She said: “I think we are doing everything we can do within our budget and we are doing it extremely well.
“When you look at the number of grit bins that Sheffield has got compared to other authorities they are saying ‘good grief, how many?’.”
Sheffield Liberal Democrat leader Colin Ross said the decision to remove grit bins had been a ‘penny wise, pound foolish measure’ ahead of the party’s motion being debated today.
A separate petition calling for bins to be reinstated now has 2,000 signatures.
The council has already done a U-turn on reductions in the number of roads gritted, the main strand of its controversial winter review, after scores of cars crashed in a weekend in December.
More than 180 patients were treated at Sheffield hospitals last weekend after falling – 40 per cent more than the ‘average winter weekend’.
People are urged to use walk-in centres for minor injuries, or call their GPs, rather than visit A&E.
Coun Dunn said: “It is absolutely awful anybody should fall, and we know ice and snow can be dangerous, but we can’t assume falls are down to the fact something hasn’t been gritted. Falls can happen for any number of reasons.”
She said the city was coping better than it had in other years before gritting reductions but she understood ‘frustrations’.
Gritters were out last night and side roads with compacted snow were being cleared.
Dozens of trees have fallen and more potholes emerged in Sheffield during recent wintry weather.
Residents have deluged The Star with problems, from bin collections being delayed to their cars having to be abandoned.
Council contractor Streets Ahead has had to clear 43 trees which fell as a result of snow on Boxing Day and is also treating many new potholes .
The latest snowfall on January 28 saw 33 centimetres of the white stuff land, 16 centimetres of it in four hours.
Chiefs are urging residents to report any problems - as well as requesting grit for empty bins - as the cold snap continues.
Steve Robinson, council head of highway maintenance, said: “The more the merrier. If people report problems it is very helpful.”
Gritters have treated 37,000 miles of road in Sheffield - the same distance as going around the world - since October 1.
Report empty grit bins on 0114 273 4567 or visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/winter. Visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/reportmystreet for other problems.