Friday, 29 January 2010

Snow Debrief.

Tuesday 19th January.

In amongst the formal meetings conducted at County Hall, each political group holds periodic 'Group' meetings to enable a forum for more informal discussion about matters affecting the council. Our Conservative Group has also spawned a 'Backbench Forum' where all non-cabinet members are permitted full vent...

This week County Council Budgets were at the top of the agenda with most of the discussion concerning how 'frontline' services would be maintained in the face of central government cuts. The other topic of conversation was of course the snow and the performance of the authority in tackling it.

Notwithstanding the 'deer in the headlights' outlook of elements of the highways contractors - what? still no sand in the bins? - considerable Surrey stocks were 'Shanghai-ed' so that only limited salt supply made it out for the benefit of residents. I say again; it was a political decision all the way down from Downing St and came down to rationing, so that marginals could benefit.

There were a number of issues that were raised and I supported the case in the strongest terms that some sort of enquiry be started as to that performance. In particular I have issues regards the way that the main housing areas in this division - in particular Connaught Park, Snow's Ride and Briar Avenue - were all inaccessible and cut off for several days. It follows that there's no point having hospitals open if residents can't leave and ambulances can't get into those cul de sacs.
David Ivison, Chairman of the Transport Select Committee was similarly enthused and has subsequently persuaded the leadership that a 'wash up' be made.

In the meantime, I have also spoken with our Highways Teams, Borough officers and the Parish members about a number of more tactical methods that might be employed during the next 'event'. Ranging from 'Road Teams' with shovels through to dispensing residents with bags of sand, I shall continue to press for a more collaborative response and as importantly find out the final position on the salt bins.

Note: A note on the 2009 change of road gritting priorities.
A number of residents have asked me to press for a change in the prioritisation of roads on the basis that roads that were gritted in 2008 were not so done this time. Initially I thought that this might be the answer to the problem, but it seems not. Many Priority 1 roads weren't gritted at all and I sense that given the same circumstances, they wouldn't be again; so upping the priority isn't necessarily the answer. I shall await the full report of the abovementioned enquiry, but as far as I'm concerned residents would have enabled themselves to get out if they'd only had the appropriate aggregates to do so. And that takes us back to more grit not taken by Cheshire, and aggregate in the salt bins.

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