I've just been telephone by a local resident telling me what Labour are saying on the doorstep about winter gritting in Frodsham - apparently everything that is wrong about the gritting is down to CWaC.
Now this sort of thing makes me very cross - I don't mind a fair fight, I don't mind discussion about choices and options but I get very cross about lies, and ignorance.
First CWaC Council has a legal duty to keep open the principal routes. If you go to CWaC's website you can call up the gritting routes - go to http://www.maps.cheshire.gov.uk/ and tick the Winter Gritting routes and you can see them. CWaC does not have a duty or a responsibility to keep residential or estate roads clear. If it did the costs of winter gritting would soar not only as it would more than double the number or route miles involved, but more and different equipment able to navigate the narrower roads would need to be used. CWaC did get round to gritting many of our residential roads this winter after 3 or 4 days of the sustained snow and ice. This was an extra service and not one any of us can insist upon. CWaC are required by law to ensure that the principal routes remain open and then and only then if resources allow can CWaC choose to provide additional gritting.
This last winter (when we were able to control our own grit stocks - unlike the previous year when Labour effectively nationalised them and CWaC couldn't even think about doing anything other than the principal routes) CWaC did a good job but we are all aware in Frodsham that there are many areas that suffer from icing. Can we do more?
Lets not forget we are all wanting more and better services than we have ever had before - so can we do it? The answer is we can as a community if we work together and choose to do it.
I tried to persuade Frodsham Town Council to get involved - however the Labour dominated FTC were at best reluctant if not downright hostile. Labour Councillor Brian Lloyd expressed his view very clearly saying he didn't want to see FTC money spent on what he saw as CWaC's responsibility. Sorry Brian you are totally wrong on this one it is not CWaC's responsibility to grit residential roads. That's the law. No ifs, no buts, no grey area, that's the law.
Knowing that we can do more I arranged for an experiment in the lakes estate which saw over 60 bags of grit delivered to volunteers paid for out of the community grants I control. We could continue a scheme like this next year covering the whole of Frodsham if FTC will organise it and pay for it. I think the cost would be of the order of £5,000 a winter for say 5kg bags of salt to be delivered 4 times a year to say 60 community volunteers spread through Frodsham. Of course this would require FTC to be seen to do something and organise this! With the present mob in charge I doubt they are capable of doing this - hence the need for change.
Lets not forget Labour decided to cut £10,000 from FTC's budget this year meaning that the Council Tax in Frodsham will fall, wait for it, by less than £3.00 in the whole year. Just think for the price of a pint of beer this year Labour Councillors gave away £10,000 of community funding which we could use on schemes like this.
Sorry John Maddock, Kyle McGregor, Alan Greggs and your ilk this is the reality both of the law and the decisions you brought about at FTC. Now when you are out on the doorstep - please tell it how it really is.