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Government forced to instruct councils to reduce gritting in order to preserve stocks

Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, Caroline Spelman, warned on ConservativeHome this morning that the Government was woefully (and unnecessarily) ill-prepared for the severe weather we are experiencing.

The Times is now reporting the following development:

Britain’s salt supplies reached dangerously low levels today forcing the Highways Agency to stop gritting motorway hard shoulders in an attempt to eke out the dwindling stock, as the Transport Secretary ordered councils to cut grit spreading by 25 per cent... Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, said Town Halls must reduce gritting by a quarter until Tuesday and immediately halt treating hard shoulders to preserve stocks for other areas.

Caroline Spelman has described the move as "an admission of utter failure". She said:

"The lessons of last February's extreme weather have not been learnt. The Government has failed to build up a strategic Highways Agency reserve, and Labour Ministers have sat on their hands instead of putting measures in place to safeguard grit supplies.  Families will continue to suffer from the Government's incompetence. The consequence of Labour's grit crisis is that many roads will not be gritted and it will be dangerous and difficult to drive.

"The Government appears to be rapidly losing control of the situation. We need an urgent reassurance from them that they can keep Britain's roads open if the arctic weather continues."

Jonathan Isaby