Tyne & Wear

Weather report councillor Steven Bridgett 'must not ride gritter'

Councillor Steven Bridgett
Image caption Councillor Steven Bridgett says his posts provide a valuable service for people in the area

A councillor who has been taking to the cab of gritter lorries to provide weather updates has been ordered to stop by his own council.

Steven Bridgett, who represents Rothbury in Northumberland, has posted updates about rural road conditions on social media over the past three years.

But Northumberland County Council said his presence was a potential distraction to gritter lorry drivers.

Councillors "should not be involved in operational service delivery", it said.

Mr Bridgett, an independent councillor, said remote areas in the Coquet Valley have their own "microclimates", which can lead to the weather there being very different to the likes of Alnwick, Morpeth and Longframlington.

Image copyright Counciller Steven Bridgett
Image caption Mr Bridgett often posts videos from the cab of a gritter

"I've got about 3,000 residents [following me] on Facebook," Mr Bridgett said.

"They can all see first-hand what the conditions of the roads are like and how they're treated."

He said he would be happy to undertake whatever health and safety training the authority deemed necessary and would pay for an appropriate insurance policy in order to continue providing updates from gritters and gritting stations.

Gaynor Ayre, of Turvey Westgarth Estate Agents in Rothbury, said Mr Bridgett's reports had proved invaluable.

'Hostile weather'

"We actually re-arranged two or three viewings yesterday based on the updates we got from Steven on Facebook," she said.

A council spokesman said its drivers "operate around the clock in often hostile weather conditions, which requires complete and total concentration".

"All have undergone comprehensive training on all aspects of the job, including rigorous health and safety training - none of which Councillor Bridgett has undertaken, nor would we expect him to," he said.

"Councillor Bridgett originally sought permission to travel in a gritter to understand how the service is provided, which we were happy to facilitate.

"However, having gained an insight into the work there is no real benefit in him or any other elected member continuing to ride as a passenger."

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