County Council leader Steve Count hits out at last year’s gritting cuts - and says council should reverse them

Councillor Steve Count

Councillor Steve Count - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count has hit out at cuts made to gritting routes – saying reports that suggested the cuts were necessary were “over ambitious” and “wholly inaccurate.”

Cllr Count is today asking opposition parties to support him in reversing the cuts made by the county council to the routes last year in an attempt to save £650,000.

He wrote in his blog: “Since October 2015 we have re-doubled our efforts at transformation programmes to manage the £99 million new savings that we will be requited to save over the next five years.

“Our confidence that this can be achieved without further sizeable cuts to services continues to increase so we have taken the opportunity to revisit the cut the public let us know was the only they disliked the most.

“It has become clear that reports presented to us last year were over ambitious in their predicted savings, routes were already optimised and third-party funding and flexibilities could not be pursued.

“Additionally, a gold-plated standard was implied and suggestions that the revised routes would normalise us with our neighbours was wholly inaccurate.”

He is asking for support on an amended motion, which he will put to a full council meeting today (December 13).

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The motion says “the council believes that ensuring the strategic roads remain open during periods of bad weather is crucial to ensuring the economic prosperity of the county,” and that “predicted savings from gritting reduction was overestimated and unrealistic.”

It also says that the recent budget figures show the predicted savings from gritting will not be achieved, and will ask County Council chief executive, Cllr Gillian Beasley, to reinstate last year’s gritting routes “in their entirety using money from the council’s general reserves.”

Cllr Count’s motion echoes the view of Liberal Dem councillor Lucy Nethsingha, who said “this council believes the gritting proposed is not adequate for the safety of Cambridgeshire residents,” and will “leave a considerable number of villages completely isolated in the event of severe ice or severe snowfall.”