TOWNS and villages in the Bolsover area will ‘grind to a halt’ if there is a repeat of last winter’s snowy conditions, fears a local councillor.
Her comments were made in response to Derbyshire County Council’s new winter gritting schedule, which she says means minor roads around villages and estates will only be gritted between 9am-4pm.
Said Coun Marian Stockdale, county councillor for Pleasley and Shirebrook: “Places like Pleasley, Shirebrook and New Houghton will not get buses into the estates and cars out.
“Last year it cost the local economy millions in lost revenue because people could not get to work.
“There is a major concern that people will lose revenue and wages - they cannot afford to be out of work in this climate.”
The county council unveiled its new schedule after a public consultation, and under the new plans roads are split into primary and secondary routes.
Primary routes include all A roads and heavily used B roads, major bus routes, roads linking towns and larger villages and roads outside bus, train, police, fire and ambulance stations and hospitals.
Secondary routes include some bus routes and well-used main roads through housing estates and villages but will only be gritted during the daytime.
Coun Stockdale, who made her comments during a Pleasley Parish Council meeting last week, is concerned not all secondary roads, including some bus routes in residential areas and roads to smaller villages, will be included in the schedule.
She fears the new schedule is aimed at saving costs.
She added: “Derbyshire County Council are saying they are putting £4.5m into the (winter maintenance) budget this year but what they are not saying is they are taking £2.5m out of the budget anyway.”
But a county council spokesman said the authority spent £4.5m on gritting last year - an overspend of £1m.
She added: “£4.5m is still available this year but £2.5m will be held back in a contingency fund which cannot be used for any other purpose.
“During bad winter weather it was difficult to provide gritting under the old system of covering all gritting routes during night time hours.
“It was also a very costly system and at a time when funds are becoming increasingly tight we needed to look at ways to grit Derbyshire’s roads more efficiently and effectively.
“Nine hundred people responded to our public consultation and 76 per cent were in favour of the plans. We still grit the same amount of roads – around 1,500 miles.”
To see the gritting routes, visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/snow.
Eighteen crimes took place in the Pleasley area in November - a significant rise in comparison to five in October and seven in September, parish councillors were told last week.
PCSO David Hancock said a higher number of burglaries and dwelling thefts were due to the time of year and due to the easy access to Pleasley from the M1 motorway.
Clerk Brian Carnall announced £1,000 of parish funds were spent computerising the cemetery records.
Members approved two donations at the meeting last week, with St John Ambulance receiving £150 and Pleasley Colliery Welfare Band getting £350.