Posted: Thu 11th Apr 2024

Conwy council cabinet rejects call to grit Great Orme as first-priority route

North Wales news and information

Conwy Council’s cabinet threw out a call from Llandudno councillors to grit the Great Orme as a first-priority route during cold weather, despite fears elderly people could be stranded.
Two weeks ago, councillors Louise Emery, Mandy Hawkins and Harry Saville signed a petition calling for the cash-strapped council to grit the Orme’s Ty Gwyn Road.
The petition was discussed at a scrutiny committee meeting at Bodlondeb and was debated again this week by Conwy’s cabinet who threw out the idea as a “waste of taxpayers’ money”.
According to councillors Emery, Hawkins and Saville, the steep Ty Gwyn Road becomes hazardous in icy conditions and residents are left isolated.
Cllr Hawkins pleaded with the cabinet to consider gritting Ty Gwyn Road as a first-priority route.
“The part of the ward that covers the Orme is the Gogarth ward, and within the Gograth ward, we have got 3,522 residents; however, only 1,490 of them are up on the Orme; 625 of them are over 65, so we are talking about a community,” she said.
“It is a community that has businesses up there, a regular bus route, and a pupil referral unit school.
“Since being elected, I have been pushing – I won’t apologise – for the safety of our residents and staff, to ensure that the community aren’t cut off when bad weather occurs.
“We also have to think about the amount of elderly residents we have got up there means we are more likely to be needing ambulances or the fire service.
“If they (ambulances and fire engines) need to get up there in an emergency, they need a safe route.
“What we are asking for with the call-in action is just for the Ty Gwyn Road to be gritted. That is the main steep route up there.
“By having this gritted as a first-priority route, it would keep it accessible for residents, emergency services, business users and our own staff. It would be safe and free from ice-related hazards.”
Cllr Hawkins said she acknowledged it was difficult for larger gritters to go up the Great Orme but argued tractors could.
She added: “It is about the difference between safety and chaos.”
Cllr Emery said the scrutiny committee had asked not only for Ty Gwyn Road to be gritted but a review for all the gritting routes in Conwy.
Cabinet member for roads Cllr Goronwy Edwards said: “There are many communities in the same position as the Orme, and their health and wellbeing are just as equally important to the council as a whole, but we adopted the position of keeping all our primary routes open.
“The Orme itself is barely a few hundred yards from the town centre where people can access vital services.
“We give ample warning in advance of inclement weather for people to get provisions into their property if they are likely to be cut off for any length of period.
“But the fact is the Great Orme is never cut off for any length of period, and if we put it onto the primary route, it means it will be regularly gritted as a waste of public funding.”
Cllr Edwards also said salt sitting on the tarmac was needlessly damaging to the road.
Council officer Andrew Wilkinson said Conwy would need an additional vehicle to access the steep Ty Gwyn Road as well as staff.
He added that other areas would need to be considered if the Orme was gritted as a first-priority route.
He added: “My professional opinion is there are other areas in the county with at least an equal call for gritting as Ty Gwyn Road.
“But it is possible to review the winter maintenance plan.
“The cost of that would probably be £20,000-£30,000 to do that piece of work.
“But don’t do that unless you are willing to spend the £100,000-£200,000 on an eleventh gritting route.”
Cllr Chris Cater said the Llandudno members had made a good case for gritting the Orme but added backing the proposals would mean other communities not on the gritting route would also need to be considered, at an even greater cost.
Leader Cllr Charlie McCoubrey added: “There is clearly a significant cost.
“There are clearly advantages to doing that (gritting the Orme), but we have to balance whether that is an effective use of taxpayers’ money.
“Even if we weren’t in the budgetary situation that we are in… I don’t know how many days we are talking about, one, two, three days a year.
“Do we spend that money to get that access for those numbers of days? I don’t know.
“It could be more, but I think we’ve got to be realistic here. I think we are opening ourselves up to having to look at (gritting) many, many areas.”
Mr Wilkinson said the Orme was a secondary route and that, when conditions were severe and likely to persist for several days, it would be gritted by a tractor.
Cllr Saville said he was disappointed with the decision.
The cabinet voted in favour of keeping gritting routes the same and not gritting the Great Orme as a first-priority route but to review the situation periodically.

By Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter



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