East Belfast Alliance Party Councillors Laura McNamee and Judith Cochrane are campaigning for additional grit boxes to be provided in various locations throughout the area in order to address the issue of icy footpaths. They have also called on Roads Service to review its policy regarding the gritting of pavements.
Cllr Laura McNamee said: “As a Councillor for Victoria and Senior Caseworker within the East Belfast Alliance Office, I have received many enquiries from constituents all over East Belfast affected by icy conditions in recent days.
“Many residents have complained about the lack of gritting taking place on minor roads and pavements. The icy conditions have resulted in a significant number of people being admitted to hospital with injuries, placing additional strain on an already stretched health service. This is a recurring issue which has yet to be addressed by the Department of Regional Development, who have refused to accept responsibility for the gritting of pavements to date.
“Many people have contacted us to raise concerns on behalf of older, less mobile neighbours, many of whom are simply trapped in their homes, as the pavements and roads are too treacherous. Whilst residents can collect grit from the Roads Service depot, this is of little assistance if people cannot actually leave their street.”
Cllr McNamee continued: “Our office has been contacted by residents from Ardvarna Crescent who have indicated that their cars have skidded downhill and they are now unable to exit the street. Others have indicated that local taxi firms are refusing to enter the street and requesting that people wait on the main road to be picked up. I have resubmitted a request to install a grit box at this particular location in order to try and address the problem.
“I have also been contacted by parents concerned about primary school children travelling along the Wandsworth Road , instead of using the pavements, in order to get to school. This poses many road safety issues and I have asked Roads Service to address the situation urgently by providing grit to the school in order to grit pavements.”
Castlereagh East Alliance Councillor, Judith Cochrane, said: “I also have concerns about the amount of time spent by Roads Service staff dealing with enquiries. For instance, in the last day, our office alone has contacted Roads Service on behalf of more than a dozen constituents across East Belfast .
“The money spent on dealing with our enquiries could have been better used to provide grit boxes in the affected areas. Given the likelihood of continued harsh weather, it is an issue that Roads Service needs to reconsider immediately.”