Page last updated at 06:33 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Extra gritting costs for local authorities 'up to 4m'

A truck collects rock salt at a salt mine for delivery to councils
Most councils said they had enough supplies for around four days or so

The recent cold weather is likely to have cost local authorities in Wales hundreds of thousands of pounds in extra gritting costs.

Several councils said their gritting budgets were severely overspent, with total costs reaching up to £4m.

The Welsh Local Government Association said most areas of Wales would have to dip into their emergency reserves to pay for the costs of extra gritting.

The assembly government said it had the supplies to help councils if required.

Conwy council said it had already spent £250,000 more than it had planned on grit, although this could increase if there were further periods of cold weather.

Torfaen council said it could spend over £350,000 - almost double what it had intended.

We are continually monitoring weather forecasts and salt stock levels to see how the situation develops
Assembly government spokesman

Elsewhere, Cardiff said its budgets and staff were stretched, while Caerphilly council has spent £250,000 on grit over this winter period.

Many other local authorities have not yet added up the final cost.

In many areas, only main roads and priority areas, such as outside doctors' surgeries, are being gritted.

The supply of grit around Wales and further afield is being centrally organised at the moment, but most areas of the country are expecting further supplies in the next few days.

Blaenau Gwent council said it currently had 250 tonnes of salt which would be expected to last around four to five days.

But during the recent severe and prolonged weather, the council said it was using up to 150 tonnes a day on main roads.

Most local authorities said they had enough supplies for around four days.

Stock levels

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "Following the recent extended period of very cold and snowy weather, the assembly government has been working hard to restock its barns.

"The assembly government is now in a position where we have enough supplies to cover our responsibility to keep trunk roads clear.

"We are continually monitoring weather forecasts and salt stock levels to see how the situation develops.

"While gritting of non-trunk roads is not an assembly government responsibility, we have capacity to help local authorities with our own supplies if required - however this capacity is not open ended and local authorities will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis."

Last month First Minister Carwyn Jones defended the way the assembly government had dealt with snow and icy conditions in Wales.

He said salt to grit roads had not run out, and the assembly government had been sharing it with local councils.

Most areas in Wales say they are also facing a huge extra bill at the end of the winter for filling in potholes.

The assembly government announced an extra £2.75m towards those costs last week but some local authorities said even that the extra money would not cover the total amount.

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