County council accused of putting lives at risk to save money

October 20, 2009 10:47 AM
Clare Blair

Clare Blair

Highway chiefs have been accused of putting lives at risk to save money after leaving two of the county's biggest cycleways in Cambridge off their winter gritting rota.

Despite a 1,000 name petition last winter calling for action, the Riverside cycleway will not be gritted and neither will the Guided Bus cycleway.

Cambridge City Councillor Clare Blair said: "They just don't seem to have listened. This was the focus of massive public concern last year and the scene of many accidents and injuries yet it is being completely ignored."

"The reason seems to be that the county council is not actually willing to buy more grit, it is simply moving the existing supply around, from one area to another. One ward's gain is another's loss; Riverside gains nothing at all."

King's Hedges County Councillor Andy Pellew said: "It is a pity that, once again, the Conservative county council is letting down residents of Cambridgeshire by leaving the job half-done. Unfortunately all we can do is hope that the sleet/snow currently showing on the Met Office's long range forecast for this winter will not affect Cambridgeshire!"

Riverside is one of the busiest cycle-routes in Cambridge city and is used by 1,900 cyclists a day along with hundreds of people walking to work and schoolchildren.

But despite vocal opposition from local councillors and the cycle campaign, the county council is insisting that it is only going to grit the cycle bridge, and not Riverside itself, because this would require a considerable increase in the amount of grit used.

Conservative County Councillor Mac McGuire has responded to the criticisms of the Liberal Democrat opposition by suggesting that the city council should contribute to increased gritting.

Lib Dem spokesperson for public transport, Kilian Bourke said "Cambridgeshire County Council has a statutory obligation to grit the county's network, and receives a proportion of residents' council tax for this purpose. Councillor McGuire's suggestion that the city contribute to the cost of gritting is facile provocation."

"Two of my local residents had serious accidents last year on frozen cycleways and footpaths. One ended up in splints, another in a cast, and both still experience pain from these injuries. Another woman had a near accident on black ice while pregnant, again on a key cycle route."

"For Councillor McGuire to be chortling and guffawing his way through this episode, which has had real and traumatic consequences for many of my constituents, is frankly distasteful, and a dereliction of his statutory responsibilities. He needs to get his act together and see to it that these routes are gritted now, not in winter 2010/11."

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