Labour have forced through plans to cut salt bins and gritting routes in York despite opposition from residents, community groups and local councillors.
Earlier this month, Labour run City of York Council decided to cut two-thirds of salt bins and remove nearly 30 miles of roads from priority gritting routes, including on bus routes. Liberal Democrat Councillors Ann Reid, Nigel Ayre and Keith Aspden ‘called-in’ the decision for further review. However, at a special meeting of York’s Corporate and Scrutiny Management Committee last night, Labour used their majority to push through the controversial proposals by 5 votes to 4.
At the meeting, the Lib Dems tabled an alternative set of plans which would have safeguarded salt bins at schools, elderly people’s homes, sheltered housing and community hubs such as local shops and libraries. It also said all bus routes should be on the priority gritting routes; community groups should be consulted before any salt bin is cut; and it called on the Labour Cabinet to review its decision to carry out an online only consultation on the cuts. These alternative plans were defeated by Labour.
Speaking at the meeting Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environmental Services, said Labour’s plans were “flawed” and “a substantial number of areas will be left without a regular gritting regime, leading to access problems for public transport and to schools in icy weather”.
She criticised the Labour Cabinet for prioritising schemes such as buying an Arts Barge over delivering frontline services, adding:
“It is a matter of priorities where budgets are spent. It is easy for the Labour administration to blame Government cuts; however, they are still able to find resources for pet projects while street level services like salt bins and gritting, which people pay their council tax for, are cut”.
The proposals have met with fierce opposition from local people with 1,000 residents signing a Lib Dem petition against the cuts. Meanwhile, Kingsway Area Residents’ Association recently said that the plans could see elderly and disabled people trapped in their homes this winter.
It expected that salt bins will start to be removed from the streets of York in the next couple of weeks.
Details of the meeting and decision can be found here: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=602&MId=7815
The Lib Dem proposal, tabled by Cllr Carol Runciman and defeated 5 votes to 4, was as follows:
Notes: 1. That the consultation was inadequate and poorly communicated even after the sudden extension after 1st September which would have excluded many residents from participating with it.
Recommends that: 1. All deleted salt bins at schools, elderly persons homes, sheltered housing, community hubs (libraries and shops) and for pedestrian routes on a gradient are restored.
2. A review of remaining deleted bins is undertaken disregarding the gritting position on the nearby highway, taking into account the financing of the snow warden scheme, and corporate priorities for public safety and a thorough Communities Impact Assessment. That the outcome of this review is shared with Parish Councils, and Residents Associations to allow the prioritisation of local funding to consider those salt bins which might still be deleted from the network.
3. Gritting routes are restored on all bus routes to ensure that they are able to keep running in winter, and that communities do not have the threat of disconnection from public transport.
4. Cabinet reviews the equalities issues of conducting on-line only consultations in holiday periods