Gritting cuts ‘could put lives at risk’, warns East Antrim MLA

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East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan has warned that cuts to the winter gritting schedule could put lives in jeopardy.

In a written question to DRD Minister Danny Kennedy, the Sinn Fein representative sought assurances that the gritting schedule would not be reduced in terms of personnel and machinery.

However, Mr Kennedy responded that his Department’s route optimisation project aimed to deliver savings in the winter gritting service by minimising the total number of salting routes and overall mileage covered to service the whole treatment network.

The Minister said the project would not reduce the length of the current salted network, and claimed it would “identify the most cost effective way” of providing this service.

But he added: “This is likely to result in a reduction in the level of personnel and machinery required to carry out this activity.”

Mr McMullan expressed his fears that such a move could be “life-threatening” for people living in rural parts of the borough.

He added: “I had previously asked the Minister to extend the gritting route to take in areas around Glenarm such as Feystown Road and Dickeystown Road, but was informed that the volume of traffic on these roads is not sufficient to meet the requirements for gritting.

“Now we are being told that the number of gritted roads is to be minimised and there will likely be a reduction in personnel and machinery.

“There should be more investment in this service rather than a reduction.

“I consider this to be total folly on the Minister’s part and I am calling on him to rethink this move,” Mr McMullan concluded.