North East Wales

'Lives at risk' in Wales gritting cutbacks

gritter Image copyright Jeff J Mitchell

Lives could be at risk if councils reduce the number of roads gritted this winter, a motoring body has said.

The RAC said rural communities would lose out as a result of the possible cost-cutting measure.

The comments come after Denbighshire council said only prioritised roads would be salted if it does not freeze - saving £20,000 a year.

David Smith, who is responsible for the county's highways, insisted lives were not at risk.

The changes would leave about 27 miles (43km) untreated.

The BBC contacted every local authority and 21 replied. There has been a 7.7% decrease in the amount of roads Flintshire council grits and changes to salt bins in Gwynedd with community councils taking budget responsibility from next year.

Newport council said it was reviewing its plans. Torfaen grits about 53% of roads. Other councils also said their focus was on A and B roads, with C roads seen as less of a priority.

Ed Evans from the RAC said: "The big roads that are used most often. they will most likely get gritted.

"Rural roads, its very likely they wont get gritted as much as previous years. We understand money is tight, but I think they are putting lives at risk."

Image caption David Smith says Denbighshire council will continue to grit roads when necessary

'Have to save money'

But David Smith, who is responsible for highways at Denbighshire council, denied this.

He said: "If there is snow or the weather is particularly bad, we'll continue to grit roads as usual.

"This is only a temporary cut when we know conditions won't be too bad."

Mr Smith added: "What we are trying to do is ensuring that the roads that most need gritting get salt. If the weather gets bad, we guarantee that all roads get cleared and gritted.

"We have to save money and by doing this we save on a lorry having to go out to grit. But I must emphasise we will continue to grit roads that need to be gritted and if the storms come, we will be there."

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