Decision to stop gritting number of local roads challenged

Cheshire East Council's decision to reduce the number of roads that get gritted each winter, including several of the main routes in Alderley Edge, has been challenged by some members.

The Council's proposal for 103km of previously untreated roads to be added to the highway network as requiring routine winter treatment, whilst 230km of previously treated roads were to be removed.

Roads to be removed are in Handforth, Lacey Green, Wilmslow Park and Morley Green along with Chorley Hall Lane, Mottram Road, Heyes Lane and Trafford Road in Alderley Edge. Whilst there are roads added to the route in the town centre, Pownall Park, Handforth and Styal.

The report had been considered by the Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 20th January and Councillor J P Findlow, Chairman of the Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee, presented the Committee's comments on the report to Cabinet, who approved the proposal on Tuesday 4th February.

During the discussion on this matter, it was suggested by some visiting members that the consultation had been inadequate. Some also questioned the basis of the decision to remove gritting from roads within their wards.

A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said: "Proposed changes to a number of highways policies and plans, referred to as ' Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure' were considered at four meetings of Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee and were informed by public consultation before being considered by Cabinet on Tuesday 4th February.

"Cabinet approved the recommendations in the report, however this decision has been 'called in' by members and, therefore, the recommendations within the report to Cabinet cannot be implemented until the proposals have been further scrutinised.

"The matter will now be referred to the Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee by the council's monitoring officer. It is intended that this will be placed on the agenda in time for the scheduled meeting on 16th March."

The Cabinet also approved proposals to:

  • Amend the current frequency of safety inspections so that 843km of the most heavily trafficked roads in the Borough receive an increase in inspection frequency and 516km of lesser used routes receiving a lower inspection frequency. Under the proposals, the roads considered most important would receive inspections every month, whereas under the existing arrangements this is undertaken every two months.
  • Revise the response times for the repair of defects. The current code of practice, aims to address the most dangerous actionable defects within 1.5 hours and less dangerous actionable defects within 5 days. The proposal is to address emergency defects in 1 hour during the working day and 1.5 hours outside of working hours; however, defects that pose a lesser risk to the traveling public will be repaired between 2 and 20 working days from the point of identification by an inspector.
  • Change the approach to road defects from intervention levels to investigatory levels. Under the current approach defects are actioned at the specific intervention level: 50mm for potholes, 100mm for carriageway edge deterioration, 25mm cycle-path or footpath defect and 50mm for cycle lane defects. Under the proposed approach defects are risk assessed at the investigatory level to determine the risk they pose to the public: 40mm for potholes, 80mm for carriageway edge deterioration, 20mm cycle-path or footpath defect and 20mm for cycle lane defects.
  • Review cross boundary agreements where roads in other council's areas are treated in return for the treatment of roads in Cheshire East to deliver route efficiencies. The Council presently treats 58km of other councils' roads with 19km of the CEC network treated in return.

Maps showing proposals

Green - road to remain on route.

Orange - road to be removed.

Blue - road to be added.

Cheshire East Council, Gritting


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Kathryn Blackburn
Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 3:22 pm
Oh so many adjectives and expletives come to mind here. Let us just say that whoever thought it a good idea to stop gritting any of the roads mentioned above is a
Jean Berman
Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 5:11 pm
How stupid is this
John Featherstone
Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 7:52 pm
totally agree with Kathryn above, madness not to grit roads
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 8:51 pm
As promised here are the full details of how the roads were assessed and the methodology used.

Ultimately, all roads are dangerous in icy and snowy conditions but we cannot grit all roads.
Therefore, there has to be some logical way of deciding which roads are gritted and which are not. A system that is fair to all residents across the borough and that focuses the resources where they create the greatest good.

Unfortunately, it has been decades since our roads have been reviewed though. For example, Pinewood Road in Wilmslow is being removed from the gritting list because it was classed as having a care home and a bus route on it. However, I can't remember ever seeing a bus on this road for the past 20 years I have lived nearby as the route is long, long gone. Therefore, reviewing and amending the list is long overdue.

The review is also conditional to keeping a £2m a year road maintenance grant from the Department for Transport, without which we would have to reduce the amount of gritting by far more. Therefore, we understand peoples anger at losing their road from the list but hope you can understand the reasons why this difficult decision is being made.

Full details of the review can be found at:

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Cheshire East & Wilmslow Town Council
Kathryn Blackburn
Thursday 20th February 2020 at 10:04 am
These are not just any roads these are major routes into Alderley Edge, without gritting they will become un-safe. For instance many elderly use Mottram Road to get to the Alderley Edge Medical Centre from outlying villages. The amount of traffic that use Chorley Hall Lane that may be thrown on to Ryleys Lane at school drop off time could prove fatal.

I do not normally find myself in disaccord with Mark Goldsmith but this time I vehemently disagree. Find the money from some other source and keep our roads open and safe to travel in wintry conditions.
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 20th February 2020 at 6:58 pm
It does not surprise me that this decision is being challenged as I sympathise with both sides of the argument.

Therefore, I have just made a freedom of information request to Cheshire East Council as follows:

Dear Cheshire East Council,

This request is related to the decision made by cabinet on Tuesday 4th February 2020 to adopt the report and proposals for “Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure” (item 9 of the agenda).

It specifically relates to “The Winter and Adverse Weather Policy and Plan” element of the report and proposals.

The report states: "As a result of the risk assessment process, 995km out of 2700km (37%) of the highway network has been identified as requiring routine winter treatment."

There has been significant public interest in how these figures have been determined, and so this request is being made on the grounds of openness and transparency.

The information currently available on the council's website is limited. It does not give sufficient information to be able to determine if the council has carried out its risk assessment correctly.

Therefore, please provide the information that identifies how this was determined. This should include a copy of the detailed calculations used to determine how figures were ascertained.

It is in the public interest that the decision made was based on accurate and reliable information and that the risk assessments were carried out correctly and in line with the correct criteria.

Yours faithfully,

Stuart Redgard