One of Ely’s steepest streets will NOT be gritted this winter, leading to major concerns about carnage on the roads.
Spotted in Ely can reveal that Back Hill, one of Ely’s busiest routes in and out of the city and also one of its steepest, will NOT be gritted this year.
While some weather forecasters predicting the most bitter winter in five years, Cambridgeshire County Council has made the controversial decision to slash its gritting budget, employing a third less gritters than last year.
The area in front of Ely Cathedral known as The Gallery, regularly used by tour buses and coaches, is also excluded from the county’s gritting map, as are Silver Street, Barton Road, Brays Lane and Stuntney village.
A map provided by Ely city councillor Alison Wheelan shows the areas that will be gritted this year marked in red. The blue lines show routes that were gritted last year but have been given the slip this year.
Liberal Democrats group leader and councillor Lorna Dupre, who represents Sutton at East Cambridgeshire District Council and Coveney, Little Downham, Mepal, Pymoor, Sutton, Wardy Hill, Way Head and Witcham on Cambridgeshire County Council, called the decision “very worrying”.
She said: “Back Hill is a busy road forming a main route from the cathedral and city centre to the station and the A142 and A10.
“It’s also regularly crossed at the top by pupils from Kings School.
“The junction with Broad Street is already one of the most dangerous junctions for cyclists in the county. Not to grit Back Hill would be very worrying.
“Liberal Democrats proposed an alternative to Conservative cuts to winter gritting in February’s county council budget, but were narrowly voted down.”
Councillor Dian Warman, who sits on Ely City Council said she and fellow councillors would raise the issue with Mike Rouse, who represents Ely North and East as well as sitting on the City Council. She plans to write to the Executive Director of Transport and Environment asking for an explanation and demanding that Back Hill is gritted.
She told Spotted in Ely: “I couldn’t believe that they would be so short sighted to not grit the Hill, it’s the main route to and from the station.
“It’s a classic example of those at CCC not knowing anything about the county except for Cambridge.”
She said Back Hill had been gritted in the past but even then, during periods of snow, cars had occasionally struggled to get up the hill and been left abandoned.
“I dread to think of the consequences, especially at night now that the lighting has been drastically reduced, I fear someone will be seriously injured. It will bring Ely to standstill, as neither the Gallery or Barton Road won’t be gritted either.”
Cllr Warman said neglecting to grit these main routes could not only lead to more accidents but also hamper the work of life-saving emergency crews.
“It is the main route for the police, ambulances and fire engines on call. I see them on numerous occasions each day using it to go to emergencies.
“I fear that if they have to take the longer and more congested route that they won’t get to emergencies on time and potentially put the people’s lives at risk.”
This week Cambridgeshire County Council announced that it would be sending out 26 gritters across Cambridgeshire – a third less than the previous winter, which was relatively mild.
Villages left ungritted this winter will include Mepal, Witcham and Wardy Hill, together with the road from Little Downham to Pymoor via California and Pymoor Lane, and Church Lane and the eastern half of Sutton High Street.
Some weather forecasters are suggesting a bitter cold snap across the country this coming winter, with predictions of heavy snow and ice.
The cuts to gritting services across Cambridgeshire has been met with shock and anger by Spotted in Ely followers, with some accusing the county council of risking lives.