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ENOUGH GRIT FOR ONLY 33 ROADS; Major snowfall on the way...and a shocking admission from Warwickshire County Council.

Byline: By Michael Corley

CHAOS looms for drivers across Warwickshire after council chiefs revealed they are running out of grit.

Roads across the county could be crippled by the heavy snow and freezing temperatures expected over the next few days and the county council's highways team will be struggling to cope with unprecedented demand for gritting.

Because of the shortage of grit council bosses have decided they must concentrate on treating only the main routes through the county. It's thought they only have enough salt to cover main routes for three or four days of heavy weather.

The decision means gritting secondary roads, mostly in suburban areas, have been taken off the rota with immediate effect.

It's not yet clear how this could affect schools and businesses.

Suppliers admit there will be no more deliveries to the county for the foreseeable future because of a national shortage.

To preserve stockpiles, highway workers will concentrate on treating 33 routes in Warwickshire.

And gritting bins will no longer be filled.

The shortage has caused several other local authorities to reach crisis point and plead for Government help, although neighbouring Coventry City Council has confirmed it has sufficient supplies for the cold snap.

County councillor Martin Heatley, portfolio holder for the environment, with responsibility for highways, said: "We have to respond to these national shortages of gritting salt to ensure we maintain a safe road system.

"The highways teams in Warwickshire have done a wonderful job keeping our roads moving and major routes clear.

"I'm shocked today to learn of the shortages and we're looking into the issue now to establish just how serious the situation is, and how long the delays are before our next deliveries.

"We certainly have some supplies and will manage in the short term to keep the county's roads gritted, but we now need to prepare a plan should the cold weather continue for a long period."

The county council is in talks with the Highways Agency about the possibility of aid.

All major routes were expected to be gritted as normal last night with snow ploughs on standby.

CAPTION(S):

RUNNING ON EMPTY...Gritters in Warwickshire.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 5, 2009
Words:359
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