With winter well and truly here, Plaid Cymru Councillors in rural Gwynedd are delighted that grit will be distributed free of charge to the county's yellow bins this winter.
Following discussions with the cabinet member who has responsibility for highways, Plaid Cymru Councillor, Catrin Wager, there was concern in rural areas that the cost of filling the large grit bins was adding to growing pressure on community and town councils:
“The harrowing financial pressure and stringent cuts forced upon county councils by the Tory’s Westminster Government brought the Council to this position,” said Councillor Catrin Wager.
“But it is important that we listen to our community voices that have expressed concerns about these actions, and I am pleased to report that we are able to bring about bold changes that will see Gwynedd Council fill the salt bins free of charge to try and minimise the effects of adverse weather conditions in rural areas.”
Pictured is Councillor Elwyn Edwards at Wyau Cae Pant farm gate in Llandderfel
Councillor Elwyn Edwards who represents Llandderfel Ward near Bala said: “We are grateful to Plaid Cymru Councillor Catrin Wager for discussing, researching and working positively with us in the county's rural wards, to ensure that grit bins located at roadsides will be filled free of charge by the County Council this year.
“The obstacles facing rural communities when the weather turns can cause problems for frontline workers trying to travel to work, to lorries accessing dairy farms to collect milk and to local people generally trying to move around along country lanes that have not received any grit.
"If we, as a Council, can try to alleviate some of this burden, then we go the extra mile to support our communities. The safety of our residents and staff is paramount.”
In Llandderfel Ward alone, the grit bins installed along the country lanes are instrumentally important, as these roadsides reach 1900 feet above sea level. Winters can be very harsh and ice and snow cause grave difficulties when travelling along these country lanes.
Colin Jones of Wyau Cae Pant an egg production business in Llandderfel: “As a business, winter can be difficult when trying to distribute eggs and getting lorry feeds into the farmyard, due to the adverse weather conditions and our location.
“Our farmgate is at the top of a steep hill after travelling out of Llandderfel village. Therefore, the terrain is high and the hill is extremely slippery when the winter weather bites.
“To hear that the grit bins will be filled in our locality by the council, free of charge, is very good news. I am grateful to our local councillor, Elwyn Edwards, for raising the issue and highlighting the problem to Gwynedd officials.”
Councillor Catrin Wager said: “I am glad that Plaid Cymru Gwynedd Councillors representing rural areas have come forward to discuss this issue with me. By working together we succeed in solving problems, support communities and putting the interests of the people of Gwynedd first.
“The financial pressure from the Tory Government in Westminster in recent years has meant that local authority services that are not statutory have been cut or dramatically reduced. That is completely unfair to Gwynedd residents and our communities.”
Gwynedd Council's Scrutiny Committee has also raised the issue and the department was seeking a solution.
The Council grits primary and second priority roads throughout the county, but there is no statutory responsibility to grit other county lanes. By supplying the grit, it helps residents living in the rural areas to reach the salt bins near their homes, when the weather becomes problematic.
"In this case, introducing the grit free to the rural bins is the right thing to do for our residents. Rural areas across Gwynedd will have a better chance of travelling, with care, during these harsh winter months,” said Councillor Catrin Wager.
Letters have been sent to the county's Community and Town Councils to inform them of the changes to the procedure for this year.