Durham County Council defends its gritting procedure after drivers stuck in traffic gridlock

5:59pm Thursday 6th December 2012

By Mark Summers

DURHAM County Council has rejected claims that it did not anticipate recent snowfalls as hundreds of commuters took hours to complete journeys that normally take minutes.

Many drivers found themselves stuck in nose-to-tail traffic on Wednesday evening as earlier snowfall led to traffic gridlock.

Bus services were also disrupted by the volume of vehicles which were moving at such a slow pace.

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Durham County Council says its gritters were out salting priority roads, but despite this some drivers were not happy.

A number of people commented on The Northern Echo's website, www.thenorthernecho.co.uk.

One, known as Tompopper, wrote: “Ungritted roads, that was the problem. I was in it too and it was outrageous.

"If the roads has been gritted at midday, there wouldn't have been a problem at all, but no.”

However, Terry Collins, Durham County Council's corporate director for neighbourhood services, defended the authority’s performance.

%image('2256631', type="articleLandscape", alt="FROZEN IN TIME: An abandoned van stuck in frozen flood water in Buttercrambe Road, Stamford Bridge, more than a week since the River Derwent burst its banks")

“The council was quick to respond to forecasts yesterday and all 38 gritters were out from 2pm treating our priority one network, which covers 45 per cent of the county’s highways," he said.  “In response to public feedback, Durham County Council has not cut its winter maintenance budget, and keeping the county’s strategic routes open remains a high priority.    

“I would like to encourage residents to help their local communities by using the stocks in the salt bins, which are regularly filled, and to make sure they are familiar with the priority routes, which are routinely treated during freezing temperatures at www.durham.gov.uk/winterroads.”   

Drivers faced delays again today (Thursday December 6) particularly during the morning rush-hour.

Temperatures dropped below zero overnight and ice was a big problem in many areas.

There was heavy traffic on routes, including the A1 Western Bypass, near Birtley, and around Durham City. Bus services across the county were also disrupted with some operating an amended route to avoid ice on some smaller roads and many suffering delays.

%image('2256636', type="articleLandscape", alt="SLIPPY: A tanker skidded off the road at Catterick Golf Club")

In North Yorkshire, a tanker crashed after skidding on ice while driving across a golf course.

The accident happened at Catterick Golf Club, on the outskirts of Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.

The male driver was unable to escape the cab because of the angle the vehicle was at.

Firefighters lowered a ladder which he used to climb out. The driver was uninjured.

It is understood the vehicle was delivering gas to a farm on the course when the accident happened.

Police were called and a cordon was placed around the scene, although it is not believed there was a leak from the tanker.



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