Roads could be left covered in snow and ice this winter – councils warn

Roads could be left covered in snow and ice this winter – councils warn
Motorists may face even more dangerous conditions than usual on the UK’s roads this winter due to a shortage of gritter drivers, councils have warned. 

Local authorities admit their struggles to retain and recruit bin lorry drivers – which has disrupted refuse collections across several areas – could also affect gritters when harsher conditions prevail.

Without enough gritter drivers to spread salt when the mercury drops, drivers risk facing extremely hazardous snowy and icy conditions on the roads.

Councils are calling on the Government to work with them to 'address these short-term staffing issues to ensure people across the country can continue to receive the services they rely upon'.

This follows the much-documented recent fuel-delivery crisis, with a shortage of HGV drivers affecting supply available at forecourts.

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, warned that the public sector is struggling to compete with driver salaries being offered by private firms.

He added that while most councils have been able to keep services running, some may experience disruption to their gritting services in the same way that some collection services have been impacted.

Mr Renard added: “As they do every year, councils will be working proactively to plan ahead and ensure that their winter services are as resilient as they can be.

“Councils are keen to work with government and partners to support more training for these demand sectors, however this is a lengthy process and does not alleviate the short-term pressures on frontline services.

“We want to work with government to address these short-term staffing issues to ensure people across the country can continue to receive the services they rely upon.”

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “Not being able to grit roads when temperatures drop will be a real safety hazard and could lead to more crashes and, ultimately, more lives being ruined and lost.

“We’ve already seen reductions in the number of miles of roads being treated with salt over previous winters, so this would be a blow to drivers who rely on their vehicles. Councils must get a grip of this problem so drivers don’t lose grip on the roads this winter.”

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