Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Councils continue search for salt


The Welsh Assembly Government said eight councils had received extra salt supplies

A number of councils in Wales have warned about dwindling supplies of salt to grit roads in freezing weather.

Rhondda Cynon Taff has already decided the three main mountain roads in the county will close on Thursday night.

Ceredigion, Caerphilly and Denbighshire all say supplies are dwindling and Cardiff is gritting only major roads.

The Welsh Assembly Government said eight councils had received extra salt supplies, while the Tories called for salt stocks to be allocated fairly.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council said it was in negotiations with the assembly government and neighbouring local authorities to acquire further stocks of salt, as further snowfall was expected on Sunday.

The council fears its stock of salt could become low by the weekend.

The local authority said its three mountain roads - Bwlch, Rhigos and Maerdy - will be closed on Thursday night.

Caerphilly council said it had used around 1,000 tonnes of grit this week, when it used some 5,000 tonnes in a typical year.

Gritting lorries
Going by current weather forecasts from the Met Office, we have enough left to treat main routes for up to a week.
Torfaen council

It said: "The unusually high amount of grit used over the last few days means that our stocks are starting to run low and we anticipate that there is enough to last until the end of the week.

"We are currently working closely with other local authorities and the assembly [government] to secure further stock as a matter of urgency."

Denbighshire council said it had several days of salt left and was not running out of supplies but was running low, although the local authority was expecting a delivery on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Bridgend said its supplies were sufficient for it to release an emergency supply to Vale of Glamorgan council.

Cardiff Council said it was gritting on only principal routes and warned drivers to take extra care.

"Cardiff isn't a no-go-area but drivers are asked to take special care, as many of the roads that are usually gritted will not be, due to the UK shortage of grit," said Councillor Delme Bowen, executive member for transport.

And Powys council said it had sufficient levels of salt stock to last into next week if the weather it had experienced earlier this week continued.

Carmarthenshire council said it had received confirmation of continuing to receive daily supplies, and was not anticipating any problems.

However, Torfaen council said it was still waiting for a delivery of rock salt from an order that was placed during the first week of January.

It said: "We have around 700 tonnes of rock salt left. Going by current weather forecasts from the Met Office, we have enough left to treat main routes for up to a week."

Meanwhile, Halen Mon Sea Salt, based on Anglesey, said it was approached by one council, which lost interest when told a tonne of its culinary product would cost around 12,000.

'Trunk roads'

Tory local government spokesman, Alun Cairns AM, said it was a major concern that local authorities have said they were running out of salt or are unable to access new supplies.

He said: "It is another symptom of the poor financial settlement councils receive from the assembly government that local authorities are unable to buy and store sufficient supplies.

"We need to investigate urgently whether there is enough salt available for local authorities and whether it is being allocated sensibly across Wales."

The Welsh Assembly Government said its stock of road salt for treating the motorway system in Wales was always over-stocked so it could be used as a reserve for local authorities.

A spokesperson said WAG have been helping councils with their salt supplies over the last few days, but this was not the assembly government's responsibility.

The assembly government said it had helped Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion councils with salt supplies over the last few days and was delivering extra salt to Pembrokeshire on Thursday.

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