Plans to give major Ely roads the slip when it comes to winter gritting have been met with an icy response from the city’s Liberal Democrats, who have launched a petition to “restore gritting to Ely roads”.
Ely Liberal Democrats plan to raise the issue during a meeting with Cambridgeshire County Council tomorrow (Tuesday).
In October, Spotted in Ely broke the news that some of Ely’s steepest and busiest routes, including Back Hill, will NOT be gritted this year, following a controversial decision by the council to slash its 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 West Fen Road, Silver Street, Barton Road, Brays Lane and Stuntney village. School routes such as St John’s Road have also been dropped from the list.
The map above, provided by Ely city councillor Alison Whelan 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.
Ely Liberal Democrats recently launched a petition, aimed at changing the council’s mind.
“Gritting the road outside a school or along a bus route is a pretty basic and important job for the council,” said local campaigner Christine Whelan. “We hope we can change the council’s new policy before it does too much harm.”
Soham Road, the main road through Stuntney, will cease to be gritted under plans from the Conservative-led Council. If enough people complain, I hope we can change the council’s plans,” Ms Whelan added.
“Gritting these rural roads is important,” said Queen Adelaide resident Rupert Moss-Eccardt, “Branch Bank is hazardous enough as it is and the council has a duty to make it safer.”
Failing to grit routes such as West Fen Road and Back Hill would pose major risks to pedestrians and cyclists as well as to motor vehicle users, the petition says.
In October 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 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.