‘Surely gritting is cheaper than injuries on ice?’

Garleigh Road which has not been gritted despite being a priority zone.
Garleigh Road which has not been gritted despite being a priority zone.

Concerns have been raised about the gritting of a key route in Rothbury following an accident involving an elderly man.

The 69-year-old slipped over on the road outside his home in Garleigh Road, a steep road which leads up to Dr Thomlinson Middle School and is on the county council’s gritting route map.

The man’s wife, who did not wish to be named, said that after a delay waiting for the paramedics, the ambulance arrived an hour or so after the fall.

Her son and a neighbour had to collect grit from a nearby bin to treat the road, so that the ambulance could turn around.

The man was taken to Wansbeck where he was diagnosed with a bleed on the brain. He has since been transferred to Alnwick Infirmary and is ‘slowly improving’.

His wife said: “I just think that surely it’s cheaper to have the roads gritted than to have people in hospital with ice-related injuries.”

Local member Coun Steven Bridgett raised the issue at last week’s full council meeting, saying that he had heard private contractors were working from the council depot, but they were not doing all the routes county staff had to complete.

Yesterday, he added: “The council’s response so far to the wintry weather, particularly in rural areas like Coquetdale, has been less than adequate and the head of highways has assured me we will start to see an improvement.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “We are committed to delivering the highest level of service but it is impossible to keep all roads and footways free of snow and ice all of the time. In the event of widespread ice or light snow, the roads on the precautionary gritting network are gritted plus additional identified priority sites.

“These will include access to communities where there is no alternative salted route, bus routes, urban distributor roads and proximity to schools and emergency service.”

A North East Ambulance Service spokeswoman said that the incident, received at 6.26am, was categorised as a ‘green three’ for non life-threatening injuries, which has no target time. The Rothbury crew was diverted to another job and the Morpeth crew arrived at 7.44am.