Macclesfield Gritting: Angered resident gets down to the nitty-gritty over axed routes

  Posted: 22.10.21 at 16:15 by Belinda Ryan, Local Democracy Reporter and Alexander Greensmith

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Despite being twice the size in population, Macclesfield has almost a quarter less gritting than Congleton.

The revelation comes after over 200 gritting routes were axed across Cheshire East, and this week one Macclesfield man shared his fury with councillors.

Macclesfield streets Black Road, Brook Street, Union Road, Windmill Street, Blakelow Road and Gunco Lane were threatened by the cuts.

Alek Adamski, of East Cheshire Gritting Action Group challenged borough councillors on Wednesday.

Macclesfield resident Mr Adamski told Wednesday’s meeting of the full council: “Blakelow Road in Macclesfield has had its gritting cut after 50 years of gritting.

"It’s one of 219 roads cut across Cheshire East, and there was a net reduction of 79 miles, which is now well below the national average for roads gritted.

Adamski with his posters which have been delivered to hundreds of Macclesfield homes.

“I don’t think that’s progress in the 21st century, and it’s not something we can be proud of.

“For clarity, I don’t believe any road should be cut, because lives, the elderly and the vulnerable, and access to emergency services for many are now at risk."

He said he had focussed on three towns – Crewe, Congleton and Macclesfield – and Macclesfield now has 19 per cent less gritting per capita than Congleton and 23 per cent less than Crewe.

“I would like a free vote of you all to see how many councillors actually support the policy of huge winter gritting cuts, in fact cuts at all.”

He added: “There’s much more strong opposition to come, including legal challenges.

"I'm happy for Crewe to keep it's gritting, but unhappy for any cuts in Congleton, Macc or anywhere else in the county."

Cllr Browne listened to Akers Smith's acknowledgement of the public's strong opposition.

Cheshire East has been asked to urgently review its winter gritting policy with residents claiming lives are at risk because some roads have been removed from the route.

Highways chair Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) listened carefully to residents and councillors from outside our town as well, who had thoughts on the new policy which comes into force this winter.

Wilmslow resident Stuart Redgard, who has sent the council a detailed list of the issues in his town, told the meeting he considered the highways department ‘not fit for purpose’ and in need of a ‘complete overhaul’.

He said the winter gritting routes was full of errors and omissions, a fact, he said, was acknowledged by the council in July, but still not corrected.

“Only yesterday I received further evidence which demonstrates a gross error made in the winter gritting routes review. How many more errors and omissions do I have to reveal before this whole process is shown to be an absolute disaster?” he asked.

Macclesfield in the snow. Pictured is Park Green, an unaffected gritting route. (Image - Colin Park / Park Green & War Memorial, Macclesfield / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Councillors that weren’t too happy with the new policy includes Cycling and Walking Champion Suzie Akers Smith.

The Congleton West Independent elected representative asked: “When will the volume of complaints received trigger a review of the gritting policy?”

Cllr Margaret Simon (Wistaston, Con) asked Cllr Browne if he would bring forward a review of the ‘harsh and uncaring policy’ before the winter set in.

“There are genuine road safety concerns here in particular in rural areas so, on behalf of all concerns from residents and members, I am respectfully and formally asking if you could bring forward the review and re-think this this harsh and uncaring policy,” she said.

Cllr Browne told the meeting the new framework introduced ensures all roads across the borough are assessed fairly and against the same criteria.

The first grit of the season was completed on October 20.

“Prior to the introduction of this framework, 41 per cent of the network was gritted. Following the introduction of the framework, some routes have been added, and some routes have been removed, but under severe or extreme weather conditions, other roads that aren’t covered by the regular programme will be gritted, for example, in the event of a heavy or persistent snowfall,” said Cllr Browne.

He said any costs incurred through additional gritting would have to be met by cuts elsewhere.

He added the policy is due to be reviewed in March and it’s impossible to bring that date forward because you can’t review something which hasn’t yet happened.

Despite being set up just days ago, over 420 people have joined Mr Adamski's East Cheshire Gritting Action Group.

You can join the Macclesfield-led campaign here.

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