Angry crew members have threatened to close a North-East ambulance station on safety grounds unless 'inadequate' gritting is improved.

Ray McDermott, secretary of the North-East Ambulance Service branch of Unison, called for action after ambulances slid out-of-control.

"We nearly had to take the vehicles off at Durham on Saturday night because we couldn't get in or out of the Gilesgate ambulance station," said Ray, who represents nearly 900 ambulance workers.

"The ambulances were sliding down the bank sideways, fortunately there were no cars in the way," he said.

"We were very concerned about staff safety, the ambulance station is on a hill and the road was just a sheet of glass," he added.

A similar problem occurred on Monday morning and ambulances were only able to get in and out with difficulty, he added.

In a separate incident in Ferryhill on Sunday night an ambulance crew had to ask residents for a push after a 999 vehicle was unable to move off because of ice.

"Fortunately the patient was not critically ill because they lost 20 minutes getting them to hospital. There wasn't even a salt box on the estate," he added.

Mr McDermott blamed the lack of road gritting on "council cutbacks" and has raised the issue with ambulance management.

A spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service said: "We have reported the problem to the county council and they have been very helpful. Of course, the trust will monitor the situation."

Durham County Council pointed out that the road leading up to the Gilesgate ambulance station was not and has never been on the regular gritting route around Durham City.

A spokeswoman for Durham County Council acknowledged that "budget pressures" had led to a reduction in the amount of gritting and salting.

But all major roads and travel-to-work routes are treated whenever sub-zero temperatures are predicted, she added.

If there was a specific problem with an untreated surface, road users could contact council officials, she said.

Requests could also be made for a roadside salt box if certain conditions were satisfied, the spokeswoman added.

Tony Webster, spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council, said he was not aware of any major complaints about road gritting in the areas controlled by the authority.