Community footpath plea follows call for gritting

A GROUP of Longhirst residents came together to criticise the county council over a lack of gritting before Christmas.

A petition with 26 signatures on it was submitted to the authority’s North Area Committee asking for the 1.6-mile stretch of the B1337 road between the Whorral Bank roundabout and the village’s church (St John’s) to always be gritted in freezing temperatures.

They said the route was missed on December 5, making it very dangerous for motorists, and it had been neglected on other occasions over the past few years.

Dave Mallon, who organised the petition, raised another issue at the latest meeting of the committee. He said that a section of the footpath between the roundabout and the turn off to Hebron is massively overgrown, so people who walk in that direction to get to a bus stop have to go on the road.

“We have been trying for 12 years to get this part of the footpath finished off,” he added.

“Since we handed in the petition, gritting has been carried out along the road, so we hope this continues to happen.”

The county council’s north area maintenance manager, Bob Thorne, said the section of road in question is on one of the council’s primary gritting routes, so the department was ‘genuinely puzzled’ as to why it was not treated in early December.

After the meeting, Mr Mallon said: “When the road is not treated it is a very hazardous journey to get to the bottom of Whorral Bank, as the ice makes the bends even more dangerous.

“It seems that there a fewer gritters on the roads since the borough and district councils were wound up and we think the salt reserves could have been reduced when they were moved from the top of Whorral Bank to Coopies Lane, as I don’t think there is a site big enough on the industrial estate to hold the amount of salt that was stored on the bank.

“Something urgently needs to be done with the section of footpath. Just skimming the surface and taking the undergrowth off would be helpful.

“I have raised the issue with Pegswood Parish Council as it is in its boundary and the councillors agreed to write to the county council to help highlight the problem.”