Ice crisis deepens as grit runs out

FYLDE'S ice danger worsened today – as supplies of road grit ran out.

The last of Blackpool's rocksalt was used last night as temperatures plunged to -6C.

And with no delivery assured today the gritters were forced off the roads.

A Blackpool Council spokesman explained: "We've been ordering grit every day, but our supply has been getting very short.

"To grit Blackpool for snow we would need to use around 100 tonnes but the order we received yesterday was 20 tonnes.

"Some North West authorities, like Liverpool, ran out days ago so we hope we've got through the worst of it and made it stretch as far as we could."

Tuesday's heavy snow and ice - so soon after the big Christmas freeze - put pressure on salt supplies.

Councillors in Kirkham took drastic action - drafting in inmates of Kirkham Prison to help clear snow-bound pathways.

Lancashire County Council, which is responsible for roads in Fylde and Wyre, said they still had supplies of grit.

>> Click here for a full list of Blackpool's school closures.

A County Hall spokesman said: "As far as salt is concerned we have enough to carry on doing what we are doing and treating the priority road network.

"We have been receiving deliveries and there are more scheduled."

Town Hall bosses in Blackpool insist they were prepared for bad weather, but it was the extremity of conditions across the country which has left everybody needing the priceless grit.

It takes around 100 tonnes of salt to deal with snowfall, 20 tonnes for frost. By last night Blackpool had just 20 tonnes left at its Layton depot.

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Bosses had hoped to preserve the meagre supplies, but were forced out onto the roads again due to the sub-zero temperatures.

The spokesman added: "We've been prepared. We had hundreds of tonnes in stock at first but that has been getting depleted and everyone is in the same boat.

"The supplier hasn't got much and we're not a priority because they will always do motorways and arterial roads first.

"We have been ordering it but we never know how much we're going to get or when it is going to come because a lot of places in the North West have had worse snow than Blackpool and we are all desperate for it.

"The current stock will probably cover the same gritting route we normally do, there would be no point trying to do it piecemeal and trying to conserve any."

Police were forced to close some rural roads across the Fylde as freezing temperatures set in.

North Houses Lane in St Annes was closed yesterday after a number of cars slid into ditches on the moss road.

Some roads on Cypress Point were also coned off as four cars ended up sliding into the pavement throughout yesterday.

Also, roads in Kirkham and Weeton were passable with care but police said motorists should only use them if "absolutely necessary".

Lancashire County Council statement regarding national coordination of salt supplies.

County Councillor Keith Young, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Salt supplies are now being coordinated nationally by the government because of the major problems caused by the worst winter weather for years right across the UK.

"We continued to grit main routes last night and early this morning as temperatures dropped.

"We are keeping Lancashire moving despite the conditions and in contrast to many parts of the region and the country. We will keep our operation going day and night until the weather eases but with the current supplies of salt our priority remains the main routes through and around the county."

Full story, see Thursday's Gazette

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