Winter worries for farmers after gritting routes axed in rural areas on outskirts of Sheffield

DAIRY FARMERS in the outskirts of Sheffield have said plans to axe gritting on its roads threaten their livelihoods, as the Deputy Prime Minister threw his weight behind their campaign.

The average UK dairy farmer has faced falling income from milk since February.

Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg has highlighted the plight of agricultural workers and residents of Knoll Top Farm, Fulwood, in a fresh call for the local authority to reverse cuts to its winter maintenance service.

In August, the council performed a partial U-turn on its original proposals to reduce the number of precautionary gritting routes from 720 miles to 610, reinstating 140 roads following a storm of protest.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But Mr Clegg has argued this does not go far enough to protect some of the most isolated areas of west Sheffield such as Knoll Top, where the Marsden family run a farm.

They say plans to cut the gritting routes this winter will make access to roads for milk collection virtually impossible if it is hit by severe winter weather.

Owner Carolyn Marsden 
said: “We enjoyed an excellent gritting service up until two years ago.

“If our roads are not gritted, people, animals and businesses will be put at risk.

“There are a high proportion of pensioners living in our area and it is imperative that emergency services have 24 hour access.

“We pay council tax, as everyone else does, but as we in a rural community receive less services. A good gritting service is one that we value and need.

“We ask that the council reconsider their decision.”

The move will also affect other farmers in the valley already struggling with milk payments.

Mr Clegg said: “Refusing to grit roads could isolate hundreds of people and potentially destroy the livelihoods of many rural Sheffield businesses. The rural community was totally forgotten about when these proposals were drawn up in the Town Hall.”