Dec 2010 22

Click here for the full press release

Click here for the full report

As the UK is blasted by snow and icy weather, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has compiled a list of how much local councils have spent on road salt (not “grit”, see details in the full report) in the last two years. In our full council-by-council breakdown, we also reveal the total cost of purchasing emergency salt in 2009-10; buying emergency salt can be as much as three to four times as expensive per tonne.

Click here to download the full report

The key findings of this research are:

  • The total cost of purchasing emergency supplies of road salt in 2009-10 was £10.5 million.
  • The council that spent the most on emergency road salt in 2009-10 was North Yorkshire with £533,652.
  • So far, councils have ordered less salt this year (2010-11) than they did last year (2009-10). In 2009-10 councils ordered 1,509,129 tonnes and this year 1,482,730 tonnes has been ordered. While the 2010-11 total may rise, these figures show that they have not prepared adequately by buying more in advance.
  • 75 out of 205 councils have not received all of this year’s road salt order.
  • Emergency spending on road salt varied greatly between councils. For example, Newcastle spent £331,400, while neighbouring Sunderland spent £0.
  • Bradford council spent £286,000 on road salt on an emergency basis while Leeds council spent £13,400.

For a full breakdown of road salt orders and expenditure on emergency supplies last year please see Table 2 in the full report.

Chris Daniel, Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Many councils were clearly unprepared for the latest icy spell, because they had ordered less salt than they did last year. It is unacceptable for councils to write off their failings by claiming that extreme winters in Britain are too rare an event for it to be worth preparing. This winter is the third in a row where severe weather has swept across the UK so councils and highways agencies have no excuses for not having everything in place. While some seem to have learnt from last year and ordered extra supplies for the current winter period, others have not. It’s not fair that such an oversight is going to result in a multi-million pound bill for hardworking taxpayers, so the councils can buy emergency salt, and provide a lower standard of service.”

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  • Morris Hickey, Chigwell, Essex

    As a resident (and former Deputy Leader of the Council) I’m not surprised at the Redbridge situation. Despite weather forecast warnings earlier in the week, the situation in the north-east part of the borough (and in neighbouring Epping Forest District, the responsibility of Essex County Council) was not just appalling, but highly dangerous. It was clear that no advance grit and/or salt had been laid. An email to Redbridge’s Director of Environmental Services elicited the response that he had visited Redbridge that morning and found the principal roads to be in excellent condition. He has not been able to explain why, if that were the case, it took 75 minutes to travel 2 miles (of which 45 minutes for less than half a mile through Barkingside High Street) ot why bus routes were curtailed and even buses abandoned at the roadside.

    A disgraceful situation for which somebody in a high place needs to be subject of disciplinary action – andpossibly a P45.

  • Anonymous

    I’m getting old but isn’t this what we want our taxes spent on – things we need? Yes, they should have been better prepared but this is of direct benefit to taxpayers.

    I’ve no objective to the council saying ‘Sorry, we got it wrong. To dig you out we bought a dozen new shovels and a big truck to get your neighbour to hospital.”

    The objection is when we see nothing for our money, when it doesn’t provide services and when it is wasted on stupendously high salaries.