Ballyclare public voice concerns about icy pavements

Grit box.
Grit box.
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Ballyclare residents have claimed a number of footpaths have gone untreated during the recent wintry weather, leaving them treacherous to walk on.

Residents from the town took to social media to voice their concerns yesterday.

Commenting on Facebook, one person alleged: “Apparently, according to Roads Service, Ballyclare is not considered a primary route/main concern by the council when clearing ice and snow.

“People now have to report when they have had ice/snow because due to budget cuts it will not be cleared unless someone actually reports it.”

Another resident said: “The streets are like sheets of ice.”

Commenting on the claims, a spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “In 2015 Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council entered into a partnership arrangement with the Department for Infrastructure (Roads) for the removal of snow and ice from designated town centre footways and pedestrian areas.

“The agreed footpaths in Ballyclare are designated as priority areas. These footpaths have been salted on a daily basis since the onset of the adverse weather.

“No reporting is necessary as the gritting is done automatically according to weather forecasts and snow clearing is carried out when resources permit.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure said: “The poor weather conditions have caused disruption to transport across all regions with extremely hazardous conditions for motorists and pedestrians.

“Since December 6 around 300 staff and a fleet of 130 gritters have been working round the clock salting the 107 routes that make up the 7,000km of the network on the salting schedule.

“The conditions have been some of the most difficult encountered for many years and it is worth noting that the gritter drivers themselves faced untreated roads.

“To put the challenge in perspective, since mid‑October 20,000 tonnes of salt has been spread across the salted network with 10,000 tonnes of this being spread during the last week alone.”

The spokesperson continued: “On roads not included on the salted network, the Department has provided around 5,000 salt bins and 50,000 salt piles on public roads for community self-help.

“These were fully stocked in preparation for the poor weather conditions and while our resources are currently focussed on salting operations we will endeavour to re‑stock these as quickly as possible.

“With the ongoing poor conditions it is also possible that some of the bins that have been replenished are empty again. The work to refill them will continue for as long as required.”

The spokesperson added: “Despite our best efforts, it is important to emphasise that we cannot guarantee ice free roads even after salting as showers can wash salt off the road and ice may form. Drivers should exercise caution and drive with care in wintry conditions, increase their stopping distance and be prepared for changing conditions.

“The Department has agreed local arrangements for the removal of ice and snow from town centre footways during prolonged severe winter weather. The Department will provide the salt to enable the councils to provide this service and may assist with providing staff if resources permit and are available, however our main task must be to keep the primary road network salted.

“We would encourage people to take extra care and attention when making any journey and to be extra vigilant of our neighbours, particularly the elderly.”