Page last updated at 22:10 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Gritting slashed in Oxfordshire

Wood Farm in Oxford picture by viewer Denise Drackett
Heavy snow in Wood Farm, Oxford

Oxfordshire County Council has slashed the amount of roads it will grit despite the severity of the snowfall.

It blamed "increasing restrictions upon national supplies of salt to local authorities" for only gritting 29% of roads instead of its usual 43%.

A spokesman claimed the salt supplier to councils across the country does not consider Oxfordshire to be a priority.

The Met Office issued a severe weather warning, with snowfalls of up to 30cm (12in) forecast for Oxfordshire.

Met Office chief forecaster, Tony Waters, said: "The heaviest snowfall this evening and tonight is expected across parts of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, where fresh snowfall of 15cm (5.9in) to 20cm (7.9in) is expected widely, and locally in excess of 30cm (11.8in).

"This is expected to cause disruption to transport networks and could lead to problems with power supplies."

Ice warning

Meanwhile, councillor Rodney Rose, Oxfordshire's cabinet member for Transport, said: "Our highways teams have worked hard to cover 43% of the network since the cold snap started in mid-December and there is nothing we would like more than to continue with that.

"While we are continuing to grit a large number of roads we will be gritting less routes until further notice and there will be no grit for salt bins and pavements. "

Council leader Keith Mitchell said: "We simply ask people to take extra care on icy paths and roads and stay away from water covered in ice.

"If there are elderly people living nearby, we would urge people to keep an eye out for them until this cold weather abates."

Thames Valley Police has advised residents not to travel unless it is an essential journey.

The force also said that vehicles which prevent emergency services and gritting vehicles access may be recovered by either the Highways Agency or police, and there will be a cost implication.

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