Main Niton to Newport route left off salting route, leading to road closures (updated)

Does there need to be an accident before policy is changed on salting roads? asks one reader

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?

Update 16.33:
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.”

Image: Comedy Nose under CC BY 2.0

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Thursday, 6th December, 2012 12:39pm



Filed under: Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Niton, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. retiredhack

    6.Dec.2012 7:34pm

    Contrary to what local people were told a few days ago, there now seems to be no pretence that the salt shortage of three years ago is still a factor in the lack of proper coverage of the island’s road network. It’s clear from the Council spokespersonm that the service was simply cut back then and has never been restored.

    In October of this year the Local Government Association assured everyone that all was well, saying: “Councils have invested in new fleets of GPS-tracked gritting trucks, mini-gritters and specialist vehicles for narrow and hilly streets.

    “Thousands of grit bins have been placed in estates and side streets, residents have been given their own bags of salt along with salt spreaders in some neighbourhoods, and arrangements have been made with parish councils, farmers and community groups to grit hard-to-reach areas.”

    Hands up anyone who’s seen any of that going on here.

    The fact is that the sums of money required to do the job properly on the balmy IW are miniscule compared to those neeeded further north. And still they manage to put people’s safety at risk.

    I also understand (authoritatively) that IW Highways has pretty much given up spending any monty on anything pending their takeover by PFI in April. And we must assume, of course, that the PFI operator will inherit the present, very restricted, salting routes rather than anything based on common sense or public safety.

  2. Robert Jones

    6.Dec.2012 9:25pm

    The Niton/Newport Road also happens to be the Number 6 bus route; so if the road is closed – what happens to the bus service to this village, which is already isolated for anyone without a car? The road was still dangerous at 11am today, and it looked very much as if there had been an accident. If it’s like this now, after a bit of frost and black ice, what’s it going to be like when winter really sets in? If the council can’t keep main roads open, you really have to ask what it’s for – IWC knows that this road is subject to water run-off from the fields, and if that freezes the whole surface becomes a skating rink. But we can’t afford drainage; we can’t afford salt or grit; we’re told that we’re still bound by a 3 year old government instruction on conserving salt; the one thing the IW Council is good at is providing excuses for not doing anything to preserve life and limb.

    Yet they still tell us the island is “open for business” – not if you can’t get from A to B because the local authority can’t keep the major roads open it isn’t.

    • The highways troupe can’t afford to salt this bus route but can salt the road through Queen Bower to Alverstone,turn around at the junction of upper and lower roads and salt back out to main road, One has to ask which council person lives down there,disgusting.


    15.Dec.2012 11:21pm

    No point coming through Chillerton – they didn’t bother to grit that road either!

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