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Gritting cuts ‘u-turn’ in Somerset after snow chaos

Gritting the roads Image copyright PA
Image caption Cllr Rigby from Somerset county council said the savings the council wanted to make when making the cuts to road services were “based on a false economy”

Gritting cuts are to be reversed after snowfall caused problems on Somerset’s roads, it has been confirmed.

Somerset County Council made the cuts saying it did not have the money to grit as many routes as previously.

Councillor Mike Rigby said the savings were a “false economy” but council leader David Fothergill denied he had made a u-turn on the plan.

The council will be using £500,000 to offset gritting costs which will come into effect from April onwards.

Mr Rigby added: “Its an embarrassing u-turn on a short sighted decision that should never have been taken”.

After the two periods of snowfall earlier in the year, the roads on routes that would have previously been gritted were described by commuters as “chaos”.

‘Just not safe’

Coombe St Nicholas near Chard, is a parish among the 180 miles of road that the council would not grit due to cut backs on its budget.

Residents have described the roads in the area as “just not safe”.

Abigail, a resident in Coombe St Nicholas, said: ” I just slid out onto the road and luckily there was no one was coming. A dog walker came out and said I wouldn’t go any further.”

Image copyright Jeff J Mitchell
Image caption Council will reinstate gritting services across Somerset county council after April this year.

When asked by BBC Somerset if the U-turn was embarrassing, David Fothergil, the Conservative leader of Somerset County Council said “not at all”.

“This is not the first reversal of a decision we’ve made.

“A few weeks a go we took the decision to reverse to go out to consultation on bus subsidies, now that was a huge positive for everybody, but it wasn’t widely reported,” he said.

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