Pledge to maintain gritting services

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A SENIOR councillor has assured residents in the East Riding that winter gritting services will not be cut despite a report warning of service reductions.

East Riding Council holds a service review every three years and with the next due next year, a report has raised the spectre of cuts because of budget pressures.

The report, which will be considered by members of a key committee on Wednesday, said “due to the financial pressures local government is facing it is likely the winter review will consider service reductions as part of its remit” although it also said maintaining the “status quo” and service enhancements may also be considered.

However, the authority is facing some difficult decisions as it needs to save £43 million over the next three years, leading to speculation about where the axe will fall.

But Chris Matthews, portfolio holder for infrastructure, highways and emergency planning, said the council would not be found wanting in its response should the region be hit more severe winters.

He said: “What we need to do is think have we got our priorities right, and it may be a certain road is a high priority at the moment but we may find it’s better to put more grit bins out for people to self-help.

“We are not reducing the budget or anything, it’s just how effectively we can deliver the existing budget.

“If we are having a severe winter we don’t say we are going to stop the service, we look at our reserves and say we’ve got to fund this extra work. Two years ago we dipped into our reserves to find another £1m – that’s exactly what reserves are for.”

The council installed a new salt storage facility in Carnaby last year, bringing its number of operational depots up to four, including sites at Beverley, Market Weighton and Hedon. Although last winter was mild, nearly 12,000 tonnes of salt were used.