The Isle of Wight Council will not be salting the main road from Niton towards Newport. Over the last week accidents have occurred on this route, since the weather became colder.
The stretch of road between Niton and Rookley is missing from the council’s list of routes treated in severe weather, and County Hall chiefs advise driving via Whitwell and Godshill, or Chale and Chillerton, when conditions are treacherous.
Not salt, just close road
They say they will close the road, which is prone to freezing run-off from fields at several points, if police advise of a danger.
This has happened this very morning, as the Isle of Wight council announced this morning, “Niton Road closed at the request of the police due to black ice”. Niton residents argue that if the road was gritted, this expense and inconvenience wouldn’t be needed.
“1,000 tonnes of salt stored, with another 500 tonnes on order”
The Council also insists it is still bound by a government direction, first issued three years ago, to conserve salt supplies.
This appears at odds with a recent boast by Cllr Eddie Giles, Cabinet member for highways, who announced the county had 1,000 tonnes of salt stored, with another 500 tonnes on order.
“Someone’s going to get killed”
An On The Wight reader told us: “We know they can’t salt every road, but this is our main route to Newport, and someone’s going to get killed one of these days. I know of four accidents last weekend alone, with a cyclist and cars in the hedge.
“Saying they’ll shut the road if the police ask them to is no help at all. The police won’t know about the problem until there’s been an accident, and by then it may be too late.
Also a bus route
“A school bus on its way to Carisbooke and Christ the King Colleges uses this route before 8.30am, the most dangerous time for ice. Does a bus full of kids have to end up in the ditch before something is done?
A spokesperson for the council told On The Wight, “The council does not have, nor has ever had, the resources to treat all the Island’s main roads or all the minor roads connecting to them.
In response to nationwide salt shortages in 2009/10 Government directed local authorities to reduce the scale of the road networks they treated. Consequently, our treated network was comprehensively reviewed with the police and Southern Vectis.
“Given salt limitations and that the two alternative routes via Godshill and Chale respectively are treated, the decision was made three years ago to withdraw this route from the treated network. It is however monitored and closed when deemed to be dangerous.
“Though not on the gritted route, we continue to treat specific locations known to suffer from icy patches and routinely install ‘salt socks’ so that water running from the verges passes through the sock picking up salt which prevents it freezing.
“Details of the treated routes are available on our website and we would urge drivers in times of freezing to stick to the gritted routes rather than more minor and untreated alternatives. We would stress that there are two routes out of Niton that are treated in freezing conditions.”