winter gritting - coole lane canal bridge accident

Coole Lane between Nantwich and Audlem which was axed from Cheshire East’s winter gritting programme have been re-instated following a number of accidents, writes Belinda Ryan.

The route will be gritted again following six incidents, and is one of two to be reinstated including Brook Street in Macclesfield.

Nantwich News carried numerous stories of accidents and incidents potentially caused by icy stretches on the six-mile Coole Lane route last winter.

A number of local councillors including Rachel Bailey and Janet Clowes had also called for the road to be reinstated on the winter programme.

Cllr Laura Crane (Lab), deputy chair of the council’s highways and transport committee, said the decision showed the annual review process works.

But Poynton councillor Mike Sewart (Con) was concerned Coole Lane had been removed in the first place.

“It was not on the original list for the gritting routes because it didn’t meet the criteria.

“What was wrong with the criteria that it so obviously got missed?” he asked.

Contract asset manager Matthew Davenhill said the reason for those incidents are quite hard to pin down but said the entire network would continue to be monitored.

Willaston and Rope councillor Allen Gage (Con) said he would like to see the gritting network expanded.

“I know there’s pressures on money, there always is, but the potential worst outcome of this is the unexpected and tragic loss of life and a few more thousands pounds spent to possibly try and safeguard against that, I think, is money that is well spent,” he said.

He also said he couldn’t understand why bends in the roads weren’t included as relevant criteria, as you couldn’t account for someone coming round a blind bend on the wrong side in icy conditions.

“The ultimate outcome of some of these occurrences on the road will be the loss of life and that’s something that none of us wants on our consciences,” he said.

gritting - Coole Lane accident in icy conditions
Coole Lane accident in icy conditions

Committee chair Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) said: “I’m sure all of us around the table would wish to expand the network that’s treated if it were possible to do…what we can’t do, as a committee, is make decisions that are outside of budget.”

The committee was told the council had consulted with town and parish councils about entering into funding agreements in relation to winter gritting ‘top up’ funded routes.

Any agreed ‘top up’ funding would be subject to a series of conditions including a minimum three year funding commitment.

Through this funding agreement the town and parish councils would commit to funding some elements of gritting that is undertaken by Cheshire East.

Six councils had responded with an expression of interest and seven had formally declined.

According to the report, if this went ahead, then the additional ‘top up’ funding would reintroduce 20.75km of highway network back into the winter gritting programme, at an estimated cost of about £30k a year.

Cllr Browne welcomed the top-up funding proposals.

“Basically, it’s about localism and choice,” he said.

“I do accept that there will be some town and parishes that have not chosen to take advantage of this opportunity and that’s fine. They have the ability to precept but they choose not to.

“They shouldn’t be able to, in any way, prevent those town and parish councils that do wish to take advantage of this opportunity and add one or two routes in their parish areas.”

The decision to reinstate the two roads into the gritting route and to delegate authority to the officers to approve entering into funding agreements with town and parish councils in relation to winter gritting ‘top up’ funded routes was passed unanimously.

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