ELDERLY and disabled people in a York community face being trapped in their homes this winter following changes to the city’s gritting network, a residents group has claimed.
A revamp of City of York Council’s winter maintenance service, part of attempts to save £60,000, have removed almost 30 miles of road from the “primary” gritting list, which ensures wet surfaces are treated in sub-zero temperatures. They will instead be classed as “secondary” roads and be gritted during severe weather.
The revised primary network will include roads where buses run at up to 30-minute intervals.
Kingsway Area Residents’ Association (KARA) said changes to its Arriva service, which reduced the previous half-hourly No.26 service to an hourly No.24 service, meant the Westfield community was no longer a gritting priority.
Vice-chairman Patricia Palaeologina, in a letter on their behalf, said elderly, disabled and vulnerable residents may be unable to reach buses if roads and paths become icy, but the weather is not considered serious enough for their streets to be gritted.
KARA fears services will not operate on untreated routes, leaving residents with a long walk in treacherous conditions to catch a different bus.
“This could well see many of the elderly and vulnerable, such as those living in sheltered housing or living alone, being housebound in winter, unable to go out to buy food,” she said.
“The No26 bus has been reduced to a single bus per hour and the council claims this does not entitle this vital route to be gritted. Bus companies have made it clear no gritting means no buses, and KARA believes routes such as the No24, which assist the elderly, disabled and vulnerable to be mobile and access vital amenities and food supplies, should be gritted irrespective of whether the bus is one per hour.”
Coun David Levene, cabinet member for environmental services, said funding cuts left the council with no choice but to prioritise gritting routes. He said the number of “primary” roads had been increased from the original proposals and the Kingsway area would be gritted in severe weather.
“The Danesfort Avenue grit bin has been retained and we will look to recruit snow wardens where potential issues have been identified, while we continue to be in contact with bus operators about how their services will operate in inclement weather,” he said.
Nigel Featham, Arriva Yorkshire’s regional managing director, said: “We try our best to serve all areas in times of snow and when road conditions are icy. We rely on the local authority to grit the roads, and in times of severe disruption we work closely with them.”