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true grit! True grit: supplies sent north

PUBLISHED: 18:36 19 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:51 24 August 2010

AN ORDER of 500 tonnes of grit meant for the borough s roads was diverted to the north of the country, leaving the residents out in the cold. Treacherous pavements and side roads prompted a flurry of complaints to Brent Council from those who live in un-g

AN ORDER of 500 tonnes of grit meant for the borough's roads was diverted to the north of the country, leaving the residents out in the cold.

Treacherous pavements and side roads prompted a flurry of complaints to Brent Council from those who live in un-gritted streets, some of whom had fallen as they braved the icy paths.

But council leader Cllr Paul Lorber claimed the borough was well prepared for the cold snap and had lost out to government intervention.

He said: "I'm extremely angry that the well organised councils have had their grit supplies diverted elsewhere.

"We buy jointly with Harrow and were due to receive 1,000 tonnes of grit on Monday last week. That didn't take place because it was diverted up north.

"We have had to start rationing our grit supplies; we still use about 100 tonnes a day for the main roads. Although we have diverted our street cleaning and refuse people to start gritting our side roads that is limited because we can't afford not to grit the main routes."

Francis Hoda, 55, from Beaumont Avenue in Wembley, broke her wrist after slipping as she crossed an icy road. Her daughter Aisha Hoda-Benn was furious and demanded a written apology for her mother.

In her complaint to Street Care, the group responsible for Brent's streets, she wrote: 'My mother lives alone and now only has one hand that she can use. The last visit my mother made to a hospital was to give birth to me 25 years ago. The question is when do you intend on gritting our roads?'

As well as its existing supplies the council has received 90 tonnes of grit from refuse contractors Veolia and 150 tonnes from west London partners Ealing Council.

But Brent South MP, Dawn Butler said this was not good enough. She said: "A number of constituents have fallen on icy pavements and roads that should have been gritted. This is not a problem unique to Brent; other boroughs across London have been able to deal with the weather."

Cllr Lorber appealed for residents to take extra care on the roads and asked them to be realistic about what could be done.

He said: "I'm very sorry this has happened to this individual, it is obviously an unfortunate and sad accident. Unfortunately, this will happen and people need to be careful.

"We are doing our absolute best but we can't do everything and have been handicapped by this gritting fiasco."

The prolonged period of cold weather has prompted a national salt rationing system, dubbed Salt Cell, which ensures salt supplies are diverted to where they are most needed.

A department for transport spokesman said: "The distribution of salt is of particular concern given that there are only three principal suppliers in the UK.

"We are working with them to maximise production. The Government has taken the lead, through the Salt Cell, in ensuring that the delivery of salt goes to where it is needed most.


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