Relations with county council run hot and cold

Council staff gritting footpaths in Morpeth a few winters ago.
Council staff gritting footpaths in Morpeth a few winters ago.

‘I feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall’ – that’s one view of the parish council’s interactions with the county council on gritting.

The issue is a constant thorn in the side of Wooler Parish Council, which agreed to write to the county council to complain formally about the state of the roads during the recent snow and ice at its meeting in January.

At this month’s meeting, on Monday night, the focus turned to the footpaths.

Coun Mark Mather, who previously worked as a contractor clearing snow for the council, meaning he was in the area if no council vehicles were available, said that two gritters had turned up on Saturday morning. “They didn’t do all the roads they could have, but they did come up, to be fair,” he said.

However, Coun Mather explained that the council’s neighbourhood environmental action teams (NEAT), which are responsible for footpaths, don’t work on weekends.

Referring to weekdays, he added: “They said there’s no chance of getting the paths cleared before the schools start.

“The only way I can see it going forward is as a more localised service.”

Meanwhile, the council heard a total of 38 dogs were chipped at an event held in Wooler, which offered the service for free prior to the April deadline when it becomes a legal requirement. The event was also used to educate owners about dog fouling.

Stencils warning against not picking up dog poo have been sprayed on a number of hot spots, while some offenders have been reported and sent warning letters. Coun Mather said that the county council had been fantastic and done exactly what they said they would do.