PEOPLE stealing salt destined for the borough’s icy roads have forced highways bosses to impose charges.
Work teams from the council who left supplies on treacherous spots ready to spread during the big freeze found the rock salt had vanished from bins.
Most had been illegally emptied by householders arriving with buckets or, in some cases, even wheelbarrows, to take the mineral for domestic driveways and paths.
Now, with more freezing weather predicted, the council is striking back with colour-coded salt bins to show those available for residents to use – but residents will have to pay extra for them.
Yellow-coloured council salt bins – which are positioned on what are judged priority routes to be kept open – will be locked.
Green-coloured Community Salt Bins will be open – but will cost residents’ groups £160 per bin and a further £25 each time it is filled up.
Black bins will be placed in town centre areas to help keep shoppers safe and trade flowing.
Director of environment Terry Dunn said they had reviewed the borough’s highways policy and lessons were there to be learned, including a battle against the illegal stealing of highways’ grit for domestic property.
Mr Dunn believes that the new three-bin system will ensure that there are always salt supplies at dangerous highways locations that could be used in time of emergency.
He said: “The misuse of salt resources will be closely monitored this winter. Road safety won’t be compromised by discouraging the misuse of salt bins.”
The council is also broadening its existing ‘Gritting Routes’ map to include some of the steeper estate roads after complaints that some residents were trapped for days by hazardous road surfaces during last year’s freeze.
The criteria is being extended to include feeder roads servicing estates with a significant number of people or residents who have only one way in and out.
Loop roads to estates, plus roads with an abrupt gradient or sharp bends will also be included. Mr Dunn said that the council would consider service requests for gritting from members of the community where difficulties were being experienced on an individual basis.