Nitty gritty of de-ice procedures sought

Travelling conditions have been difficult at time due to icy conditions, even in the centre of Ballymena.
Travelling conditions have been difficult at time due to icy conditions, even in the centre of Ballymena.

Ballymena Council is seeking the ‘nitty gritty’ of anti-ice procedures carried out on local roads during the severe frost of December 27.

Councillors are to both write to Roads Minister Danny Kennedy for information and clarity on gritting and to invite representatives of Transport NI to a face to face meeting with them on the issue.

Those decisions were taken last week in the wake of dissatisfaction amongst councillors over the general nature of a written response from a Transport NI official to concerns they had forwarded to the roads body last month that many local routes were not gritted in time to counter the severe frost which set in early on Saturday, December 27.

Cr Declan O’Loan said: “I am very, very disappointed but not altogether surprised by this response.

“There was a failure in how they did it (gritting) and we wanted chapter and verse on how they particularly gritted on that Saturday evening.

“Several hours into the incident when roads were extremely dangerous for a number of hours only in the latter stages were they gritting,

“Sometimes we can learn from something like that and that is what we wanted. A general answer is not what we wanted and we should not be accepting it and our officers shouldn’t be accepting it,” said Cr O’Loan.

His remarks were echoed by numerous councillors including Beth Adger, Sam Hanna and Monica Digney.

Cr Digney highlighted roads in and around Cargan as being particularly hard hit on the evening of December 27 and also at other times.

“They get snow even in June - it’s like Narnia,” she declared. “Somebody needs to sit down and strategically work out a plan of action...There was a yellow warning (on Dec. 27) and they should have been prepared and they weren’t,” she said.

Cr Tommy Nicholl successfully called on the meeting to take “a twin pronged approach” by accepting Cllr Timothy Gaston’s proposal to write of their concerns to the DRD Minister and also accept their Acting Chief Executive’s suggestion of a face-to-face meeting with Transport NI