When news happens, text CIT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
SPECIAL REPORT: 'Gritters are neglecting East Lancashire'
ANGRY East Lancashire residents have accused councils of ignoring them in a row over gritting.
They expressed fury that Lancashire County Council had salted secondary routes in the Preston and Chorley areas, while some similar major roads in Hyndburn and Ribble Valley were not treated.
major roads in Hyndburn and Ribble Valley were not treated.
Residents groups and councillors said the state of side roads and estate roads was ‘dangerous’ and called on the county council to treat all areas fairly.
People in parts of Blackburn and Darwen also criticised the lack of gritting by the borough council.
County Coun David Whipp said he was shocked when he received an email stating secondary roads in central Lancashire, including Chorley, had been treated, while East Lancashire’s had not.
The county council later said a reserve of agricultural contractors, which can be brought in to help when conditions are very bad, had been used on ‘many’ routes in the area.
Coun Whipp, member for Barnoldswick, said: “I was stunned to learn in an email from Lancashire County Council that secondary routes in central Lancashire, which is relatively flat and low lying, were being ploughed and gritted on Monday afternoon.
“At the same time in Pendle, bus routes and other priority roads were snowbound.
“If there were enough gritters to do the secondary routes in Preston, why weren’t they sent to deal with the priority routes in upland parts of the county?
“We have had some extra resources our way recently but clearly not enough.”
Lancashire County Council considers primary routes to be motorways, A roads, bus routes and roads that serve ambulances and fire stations, or provide single access to villages.
Secondary routes are those such as access roads to estates. In Blackburn with Darwen, there are four primary routes which are close to hospitals, police stations and fire stations and are gritted as a matter of priority when wintry weather is forecast.
Workers then grit four secondary routes, which are major roads, but not side roads.
Steve Rush, who lives in Highmoor Park, Clitheroe, said the fact some secondary routes in the south of the county were being gritted while East Lancashire was still icy was a ‘ridiculous’ situation. The chairman of the Clitheroe Residents Action Group said: “What gives them the right to clear some areas of road and not the rest of the county?
“What is so special about Chorley and Preston, do they pay more council tax than us?
“The point is that if they are gritting in one area on the secondary routes, they should do it in all areas.”
Sam Dobson, manager at Glencoe Boarding Kennels, Haslingden Old Road, Oswaldtwistle, said customers had been struggling getting to them.
She said: “People have had real trouble on this road, with their tyres slipping all over the place because gritters can’t get down here.”
Joanne Spencer, 41, a support worker for the learning disability service who lives in Worsten Avenue, Blackburn, said: “I couldn’t get the kids to school because the road was like an ice skating rink and I won’t risk it with the kids in the car.
“The amount of cars that have been skidding around here, it’s treacherous. I saw an elderly lady crash into a tree outside my house yesterday, she just couldn’t control her car on the ice.
“The council hasn’t done anything to help us, which is why we’re out shovelling the road, because nobody else is going to do it.”
Anne Potter, of Birch Hall Avenue, Darwen, said: “There are quite a few elderly people up here and the Birch Hall bus has not been coming.
“It is about time they got around to the estates now.”
Residents said despite the problems gritting teams had been working hard and doing a ‘wonderful’ job.
Seven hours after being asked for a comment the county council issued a statement quoting County Councillor Tim Ashton, cabinet member for highways and transport.
It said: "Councillor Whipp has misinterpreted the situation.
"While our fleet of 26 vehicles in East Lancashire worked to keep the main routes clear, many of the secondary routes were treated by a reserve of agricultural contractors which we can bring in to help when conditions are particularly bad.
"We have a duty to keep traffic moving and always commit the resources needed to achieve this, which means we necessarily spend more to deliver the winter service in East Lancashire than any other part of the county."
Coun Dave Harling, executive member for regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Our grit supplies are healthy and we're out gritting around the clock.
“ I would urge people to take care out there on the roads and footways and keep safe."
The cold weather is expected to continue, with the Met Office predicting freezing temperatures until at least Friday and more ice and frost over the next 24 hours.
However, the region is not expecting to see any more snow and temperatures should reach around 5C on Saturday.
Taxi drivers battle 'atrocious' roads
TAXI drivers across East Lancashire said they had battled ‘atrocious’ conditions to continue working.
Many firms have had to drop people off on main roads rather than risk going on to estates, where most roads have not been gritted.
Mohammed Arif, chairman of Burnley Private Hire Association, said: “It has been quite difficult for everybody, especially going up to high ground.
“I think a couple of firms have decided to close and for the rest it has been quiet, they have had to stick to the main roads because the estates haven’t been done.
“It has affected the trade quite badly.”
Mohammed Mangera, a Blackburn taxi driver, said: “We have been working on the main roads but the side streets have been difficult, it depends on the condition as to whether we can access them.
“It has been a quiet time. Town is quiet and people are staying in so there hasn’t been much business about.”
Glenn Bullcock, chairman of the Rossendale Taxi Association, said side roads should now be gritted to help taxis access those who have been left housebound.
He said: “It has been tough going, the conditions have been atrocious.
“Now the main roads have been done I think the county council should be getting to the estates so we can get to the elderly, because there are a lot of elderly people that are housebound, and we can’t get to them at the moment.”
Rescuers on standby to help 999 crews
MOUNTAIN rescue teams were put on standby in case ambulances were unable to reach patients because of the snow.
Ambulance crews reported a 12 per cent increase in 999 calls on the same time last year.
In total, the North West Ambulance Service attended around 10,300 incidents across the region from Friday to Monday, with 41 per cent of those calls being graded as high priority.
Derek Cartwright, acting director of operations at the North West Ambulance Service, said: “This time of year is traditionally one of our busiest times, but add extreme weather to the picture, and calls for help from genuinely ill people dramatically increase.
“The conditions being presented are generally respiratory related which particularly affects the under 16s and over 65s. We have also seen an eight per cent increase in fall related incidents.”
Andy Simpson, deputy team leader with the Pendle and Rossendale Mountain Rescue Team, said: “We had one call to Whitworth, but were stood down very quickly as the ambulance crew managed to deal with it.
“We had another call to St Margarets Court in the Audley area of Blackburn where the ambulance crew was struggling.
“They walked as far as they could and we sent two vehicles, but the patient stayed at home.”
Andy said that the last time East Lancashire was hit by a cold snap, they were called out 30 times.
Bin collections hit as wagons delayed
SNOW and ice have resulted in delays to bin collections in some area.
All refuse and recycling collections were suspended for a while in Rossendale, but the council is hoping to get collections back to normal as soon as possible.
They are asking for refuse bins not collected to be left out and they will be collected as soon as it is safe, but recycling bins will have to wait until the next collection day.
Refuse collectors in the Ribble Valley were hoping to continue their collections as normally as possible.
A spokesman said: “The collection crews will assess each street and, if safe to do so, will continue with collection as normal.
“The driver has to be sure he can retain full control of the refuse collection vehicle.
“If the vehicle slides or becomes stuck it could be unrecoverable and may block the road.”
In Pendle, some refuse collections in Barnoldswick and Earby were missed, while recycling collections in Brierfield, Barley, Newchurch and Roughlee have been delayed.
Collections are mostly up-to-date in Burnley but there have been some collections missed, or only part done, around the Briercliffe Road, Red Spar Road and Manchester Road areas.
Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “Waste collections are continuing, but again we are facing the same problems with access in certain areas.”