ALLIANCE Councillors Geraldine Rice and Naomi Long have said that plans to reduce road gritting during the winter in South Belfast and East Belfast will lead to an increase in collisions and unnecessarily put lives at risk.
Councillor Rice (Castlereagh) said: “Roads Service must realise that, despite the expense, gritting roads during the winter months saves lives. This year the death toll on our roads has been horrendous, and for the service to start massive cuts now will put lives at risk.
“Twenty roads in total have been dropped from the gritting programme in South Belfast and Castlereagh. Today was the first real icy day and there have already been a number of accidents because of slippery roads.
“My colleague Sara Duncan contacted Roads Service earlier this year when we learned of proposed cuts, and it seems that cost is a major issue. But putting a price on safety in this manner is tantamount to gross negligence.”
Councillor Long (East Belfast) said: “Some of the roads that have been cut from the programme have steep hills that join some of the busiest and most dangerous roads in Northern Ireland. McCaughan Park, Glencregagh and Mount Michael are being refused gritting services, yet they are on the side of the Castlereagh hills.
“The number of cars that travel on a road is not necessarily the best indication of whether a road should be gritted. I will be writing to the Department of Regional Development to ask exactly how the decisions in South and East Belfast were arrived at, as I believe some should be reconsidered.”