TaxPayers’ Alliance reveals council spending on emergency road salt

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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