Council has spent its winter budget

A YORKSHIRE council has spent its whole winter maintenance budget before the turn of the year, its former leader has warned.

And with more months of winter weather still to go, fears are growing over the financial implications of the overspending on next year's budget.

Coun Steve Galloway, executive member for city strategy and the former leader of the council in York, was speaking as he demanded a new winter resilience plan for the city and criticised water companies and housing associations for leaving dozens of residents in the cold over Christmas without proper information.

He said: "We have more or less spent the whole of our winter maintenance budget in these first weeks of winter. There are financial implications.

"The council is bound to be concerned, on the one hand it is spending more than it has in the past at the same time as the money dries up – it is a double whammy.

"What we are spending now will very much affect what we are able to do in terms of quality of service next year. But we will always prioritise safety, and gritting is part of that."

Coun Galloway said as part of his new winter strategy for the city he would be asking council officials to work with partners to ensure that York could deal better with extreme weather conditions in the future.

He said: "I have had a lot of complaints from people who have felt isolated particularly over the last week or so when the bad weather coincided with the long Christmas holidays.

"I'm calling on Yorkshire Water and housing associations to review their communications at the very least.

"I don't think people were very happy at being left without water for seven days."

The authority said it has already gritted 66 times this financial year at a cost of 296,000 – it would normally expect to spend 281,000 – and its 1m budget for potholes and footpath repairs for this year has not been overspent.