Less than half of Leeds’ roads are routinely gritted on a priority basis, analysis reveals as the council stresses additional resources are available if the city were to experience extreme wintry weather.
An investigation by the YEP, looking in-depth at budgets, gritter numbers and networks covered compared to the rest of the region, found that 43 per cent of Leeds roads are routinely gritted on a priority basis.
This compares to 70 per cent of roads in Sheffield, 62 per cent in Bradford and at the other end of the scale, 31 per cent in Hull and 32.5 per cent in Doncaster.
Leeds City Council has said its network is flatter and lower than neighbouring regions, with roads less prone to icing up than those at a higher elevation about sea level. The county’s higher roads, it said, would experience temperatures 1-2 degrees colder than those in Leeds.
“Our priority is to keep Leeds moving safely, and our gritters have a 3,000km long network of road to cover, focusing on 1,280km of primary network,” a spokeswoman for the city council said.
“In Leeds we’ve kept our winter maintenance budget at the same level for the past decade, without cuts, however additional resources are available if more grit is needed due to extreme or extended cold spells.”
The investigation, based on Freedom of Information requests, found that Leeds City Council’s winter budget, of £1,361,000, has remained the same since 2015. The percentage of the network routinely gritted has remained at 43 per cent since 2010, while the number of grit bins has risen steadily from 945 to 1,079.
Across Leeds, 37 gritters are in use, covering the same 30 routes that they have for more than a decade, while at the start of winter there was 25,700 tonnes of salt available.
Coun Barry Anderson (Con), representing Adel and Wharfedale ward, said secondary routes were also important.
“Leeds is a challenging city in terms of its large area and extensive road network so within the resources the council allocates for gritting they do an effective job,” he said. “But I would query how the budgets are being used. Could more of a focus be put on pavements to assist local residents and particularly older people who are potentially more prone to slipping? As well as having a terrible impact on the individual falls also place a burden on health budgets and I would like to see more done through gritting of pavements.”
Jeff Symcox, 45, IT manager, Stoke on Trent
“It seems to be gritted around the station most of the time. It’s a bit odd. They should have sufficient services to do everywhere.”
Indee Watson, 18, student, Pudsey
“For me, if the roads in my area are not gritted when necessary, I wouldn’t be able to get to the train station and so would be unable to travel into university, which is a limitation of this gritting technique for many other people too.”
Ian Wilkinson, 28, magazine seller, Beeston
“All the roads should get gritted because it’s safety for the public afterall. Safety for the public comes first.”
Beryl Lloyd, 80, retired, Oakwood
“I wish they’d take it (the grit) as far as Morley as on my daughter’s street she has to put it down herself because she can’t get up the street.”
Loraine Danby, 61, admin, Hunslet
“It’s not fair. It should be based on older people and where they live.”
Daniel Ball, 21, bartender, Stockport
“I feel safe on the main roads but near my house it’s incredibly icy in Winter.”