Disappointment at gritting issue response

Weather warning issued
Weather warning issued

The Ulster Unionist Party spokesperson on infrastructure has expressed his dissatisfaction at the response of Roads Service to the icy conditions on east Antrim roads.

Local MLA John Stewart said most people are realistic enough to appreciate that not every road and street can be on a primary gritting route.

“However, and while I would never criticise the workers who drive the gritting lorries, I have to say that the response of Roads Service to the freezing conditions has been patchy at best.

“In many residential areas in east Antrim, grit boxes - which were empty from Thursday evening - were not replenished over the weekend. I, and Ulster Unionist councillors, passed on numerous requests to DfI Roads to refill grit boxes on behalf of residents from Friday but only got acknowledgements on Monday morning,” Mr Stewart told the Times.

“Part of the problem is that many residents assume it is the local Council’s responsibility to grit roads and supply grit boxes because they do not know who or where the Department for Infrastructure Roads are and how to contact them.

“This is hardly surprising considering the amount of name changes which have occurred in recent years.

“It used to be the DoE, then Roads Service was taken out of that Department and became an agency of the Department for Regional Development.

“Then it was rebadged as Transport NI which then became a part of the Department for Infrastructure (Roads).

“The basic policy itself is that main through routes which carry more than 1,500 vehicles per day are on the gritting schedule, which amounts to only 28 per cent of the total road network but carries 80 per cent of the traffic.

“Grit boxes are provided in residential areas but only if they meet certain criteria in terms of gradient and numbers of houses served.

“Of course the only place the gritting policy can be changed or altered is at the Assembly,” Mr Stewart added.

So it remains a source of massive frustration that the Assembly is not meeting and there are no scrutiny committee meeting to review these matters. There is obviously no current Minister for Infrastructure to be held accountable and defend or change the policy at Stormont. This is yet another consequence of the political paralysis inflicted by Sinn Fein with the assistance of the DUP.”