‘Victory for common sense’ as Sheffield grit cuts reversed

A gritter crashed and on its side on Douse Croft Lane in the Mayfield Valley, Sheffield
A gritter crashed and on its side on Douse Croft Lane in the Mayfield Valley, Sheffield

Relieved residents today hailed a council U-turn on controversial gritting cuts in Sheffield as a ‘victory for common sense’.

There was a public backlash and fears lives could be lost after a deep freeze last weekend led to scores of cars crashing on untreated roads.

Some vehicles were left stranded while others spun out of control on black ice and even a gritter over-turned.

Sheffield Council announced it was cutting the number of roads it grits during the winter by 100 miles in a bid to save £100,000.

But yesterday the council confirmed it would reinstate gritting on all priority two roads.

Questions are now being asked about how much last weekend’s ‘carnage’ had cost.

The council says it has ‘listened’ to the public and reversed the cuts, which mostly affected west Sheffield

Anoushka Read, owner of Mill Lane Livery on Mayfield Road, Mayfield Valley, said: “It is common sense for public safety which has led to this victory.

“It makes a difference if they don’t know the area.

“They were telling us to drive to the conditions and keep on main roads which is impossible in the valley.

“It is excellent they have changed their minds – it has made my Christmas.”

Residents indundated The Star with complaints.

Dungworth dairy farmer Eddie Andrew said publicity on social media had been ‘embarrassing’ for Sheffield.

He said: “If the roads are untreated and one of our vehicles goes off the road that’s 1,000 customers and more than 30 other businesses affected – that’s just one van.

“We put a photograph of a crash on our website and it got something like 11,000 views. There were some seriously strong feelings.”

Opposition councillors worked with affected residents. Lord Paul Scriven of Hunters Bar tabled a question in Parliament asking if the council was fulfilling its statutory duty.

Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was ‘delighted’ the campaign had been successful.

He added: “It’s unacceptable it took some particularly nasty accidents until Labour councillors were forced into a U-turn.

“The original decision wasn’t thought through and it’s shocking the safety of residents can be held in such contempt.

“I have spoken to many from the rural community who have been treated extremely shoddily and the least they deserve is an apology.

“Labour previously claimed they had no other option but to stop gritting these routes, but this shows this was blatantly untrue.”

Mortimer Road, Bradfield, and Woodhead Road, Grenoside – both roads on which several accidents were reported – will now be gritted as well as routes in the Mayfield Valley.

Coun Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for environment, recycling and Streetscene, said gritting would be reinstated in the western part of the city by Christmas Eve before the next cold snap.

She added: “The safety of Sheffield residents is of utmost importance. I have listened very carefully to concerns raised and asked for a review of the service. I have decided to reinstate the old gritting routes.”

The removal and relocation of grit bins will be reviewed at the end of the winter but drivers are still urged to drive to the conditions.

Matt Dixon, chairman of Bradfield Parish Council, thanked everyone involved in the campaign and council leader Julie Dore for taking up the issue personally.

He added: “All we wanted was the roads gritted again, this has now happened.”.