HIGHWAY chiefs in County Durham who came under fire over the state of the county’s roads during the recent cold snap pledged yesterday to review their procedures for dealing with winter weather conditions.
But at the same time they warned it would be “physically and financially impossible” to live-up to the public’s expectations in terms of winter salting, gritting and snow clearing.
Following a meeting of Durham County Council’s Highways Committee, councillors held a winter road maintenance debriefing session to discuss their response to last week’s snowfall which caused problems on some roads and footpaths.
Coun Bob Young, cabinet member for traffic and highway maintenance, said: “We have listened to what people have had to say and will look to see how best we can respond.
“The council has a system of priorities for clearing snow and ice that is designed to keep traffic on the busiest routes moving and footpaths in key areas as safe as possible.
“We will be re-examining those priorities to make sure we’ve got them right and that we are providing the optimum level of service.
“We can’t treat everything and everywhere at once, and inevitably, less important roads and footpaths have to wait until those key priorities have been tackled.
“However, we’re listening to what people have been saying over the past few days. We will be looking to see what improvements we can make to ensure, as best we can within the resources at our disposal, that people and traffic are kept mobile during spells of winter weather.”
Coun Young said the council had £2.35m in its winter maintenance budget.
“That enables us to treat around 42% of the county’s 3,700km highway network,” he added.
“It would be physically and financially impossible to clear every road and footpath as quickly as some people would like, but I will make sure that we are doing the very best we can.”
Last week highway bosses were criticised by Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, who said: “A large number of residents have contacted me expressing their concerns about the state of the roads, paths and footbridges. People have been slipping over, having car accidents and skidding on the roads.
“I have demanded that the county council grit the paths, roads and particularly the footbridges in advance of adverse weather conditions. I have raised the matter with the county council.”