Police requested Sheffield gritters 21 times in one weekend

Overturned gritter in the Mayfield Valley. PICTURE BY MICHAEL JARVIS
Overturned gritter in the Mayfield Valley. PICTURE BY MICHAEL JARVIS
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Police requested council gritters to attend stranded vehicles and icy roads 21 times on the weekend that led to a U-turn on gritting cuts, it has been revealed.

A controversial decision by Sheffield Council to cut the number of roads gritted before snow in a bid to save £100,000 a year, was given its first real test on the weekend of December 13 and 14.

Scores of cars crashed or were left stranded - and even a gritter overturned in Mayfield Valley - and worried residents said they feared ‘someone would die’.

Just days later the council announced it was reversing the controversial decision.

Now data obtained by Walkley resident Stan Fichele has shown police called gritters out 21 times that weekend - although the costs incurred to the South Yorkshire force were not known.

The Freedom of Information request also revealed the council logged 13 incidents and support units ‘proactively’ assisted other motorists as well.

It showed that 121 grit bins were removed entirely - saving £10,000 - and 151 were relocated to new roads as part of the review.

However, the council refused to detail what risk assessments were undertaken beforehand and the money saved by the reduction, saying the U-turn decision ‘removes the need to respond to some of the questions’.

Cyclist Stan said: “It just seemed daft that the council wanted to save pennies from something that could put people’s lives at risk - as well as risking closing schools, affecting businesses and people commuting.

“It must have been 50p or 60p per taxpayer.”

A review of the council’s winter service is currently underway after heavy snow on Boxing Day.

Coun Jayne Dunn, council cabinet member for environment, said: “The safety of all Sheffield’s residents is of the utmost importance to us. As soon as we could, we reversed the decision we had made. The old routes are now in operation and the Streets Ahead team have been out many times to grit these routes as a precaution.”