Fears ‘someone will die’ without Sheffield gritting cut U-turn

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Pressure is growing on Sheffield Council to reverse its controversial gritting cuts after scores of smashes on icy roads caused ‘carnage’.

Pressure is growing on Sheffield Council to reverse its controversial gritting cuts after scores of smashes on icy roads caused ‘carnage’.

The weekend, when temperatures plunged to -2 degrees - was the first real test of the council’s decision to reduce the number of priority two routes it treats as a precaution by almost 100 miles - to save £100,000.

Over the weekend cars smashed through walls, skidded on black ice and vehicles were left stranded.

Roads had to be closed and a gritter overturned when it was sent out to help - at the request of the police.

Residents from Bradfield, who are already planning a protest at January’s full council meeting, and those living in the rural Mayfield Valley area were among the worst affected.

Anoushka Read, owner of Mill Lane Livery on Mayfield Road, said she was aware of at least 13 accidents.

She said: “It was carnage.

“People were saying they have never seen anything like it and the council should be ashamed - it was crash, after crash, after crash.

“Cuts obviously have to be made but they should be from something that isn’t going to cost people’s lives.”

Carolyn Marsden, of Fulwood View, said her dairy farming family had been contacted about incidents involving nine vehicles, including a police car.

She said: “Somebody is going to get killed - that is no exaggeration.

“On Saturday morning a police officer was with us trying to get our milk tanker up the hill when he was radioed about the gritter going over.

“Basically the police spent 24 hours on this job. 
“Surely that costs more than having the roads gritted?”

Mrs Marsden said she had spoken to council leader Julie Dore during a Radio Sheffield phone-in on the topic, and Coun Dore said the impact of gritting changes would be ‘reviewed’.

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Business owners have pointed out being unable to travel affects their livelihoods.

And Anouskha said they could be left with bills for repairing damaged dry stone walls.

In Grenoside, Eddie Cox said his 20-year-old grandson was involved in a smash on Woodhead Road at midnight on Friday.

He tried to drive around another car which had already crashed on black ice.

Eddie said: “There could have been four deaths because the road wasn’t gritted.”

The Star asked contractor Amey whether it would be reviewing its new gritting network.

Coun Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for environment, said in response: “We are looking at the incidents that occurred over the weekend and investigating the circumstances.

“I realise people are not used to these changes but we would again encourage all drivers to always drive in accordance with road conditions - even on gritted roads. “Being prepared can involve simple things, like allowing extra journey time or altering routes, those small changes can sometimes make all the difference.”

Opposition councillors have also written to Sheffield Council demanding a new meeting over gritting cuts.

Liberal Democrat members asked for talks so farmers in the west of Sheffield could put their case forward in person to officers and staff at contractor Amey but were told it would not happen.

Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, said: “Unfortunately this weekend saw numerous accidents which could have been avoided. “We warned Labour councillors this would happen if they pressed ahead with their plans, but they wouldn’t listen and have refused to meet with the residents affected.

“Labour claim ending gritting for roads in west Sheffield will save money, but as a result of the weekend’s chaos there will be a substantial bill for repairs to our local roads, the cost of police being called out and providing treatment for those who required medical attention, not to mention distress that has been caused.

“I am calling on Labour to think again. The decision to stop gritting many roads in west Sheffield won’t save any money and it is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.”