York's gritting and salt bin budget £107k in the red despite mild winter
Updated 10:44am Wednesday 16th April 2014 in News
YORK overspent its gritting and salt bin budget by more than £100,000 - despite the city experiencing one of the mildest winters on record, a Lib Dem councillor claims.
The city saw no significant snowfall or prolonged frosts over the 2013/14 winter but City of York Council's maintenance budget was still £107,000 in the red, said Coun Ann Reid, the party's environmental services spokeswoman.
She claimed cuts by the Labour-run council had reduced gritting routes and salt bins across York and therefore reduced the city’s capacity to cope with bad weather.
"“Labour got lucky this winter," she said. "However, the policy of spending money on city-centre vanity projects like Kings Square instead of on frontline services like gritting roads will catch-up with them.
"If we have a more typical winter next year then the budget is just not there to ensure roads and paths are gritted and residents are kept safe."
She said Lib Dem budget plans had called for an extra £30,000 to be put into winter services and an extra £500,000 to be given to communities for local priorities such as extra salt bins or gritting, which would have ensured the resource was there to cope with bad weather.
But Labour's cabinet Member for environmental services, Coun David Levene, said there had been an historic issue with overspends in this budget dating back years, which he had started to address and which York's 'transformation programme' would resolve in the future.
"Recent changes I made have ensured the service saves £20,000 annually and to put the overspend in context, the budget overspent by nearly £500,000 in 2009/10 and £250,000 in 2010/11 under Coun Reid’s administration, though her party did nothing to address it.
“Public safety is a top priority for this council which is why whatever the budgetary position, contingency would be used to ensure the service is maintained”.
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