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Private contractor had to grit icy roads to allow a funeral in Derry to proceed

Councillors criticise current management of road-gritting procedures in the local council area

Councillors adamant that Ranafast road needs gritted

Concerns have been raised about road-gritting services in Derry.

A meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Environment and Regeneration Committee was yesterday told that a private contractor had to recently be brought in to grit the roads around a local church to allow a funeral to take place.

Normally, the gritting of roads during icy periods is the responsibility of the Roads Service.

However, a number of councillors complained at yesterday's meeting about the service being provided by Roads Service in relation to the gritting and salting of local roads.

The issue was raised at the meeting by DUP councillor David Ramsay who said he had been contacted by representatives from communities in the Waterside asking for grit boxes to be placed in their areas.

Alderman Ramsay said that when he contacted the Department of Infrastructure, which has overall responsibility for Roads Service, he was told that there was no funding available for additional grit boxes.

Alderman Ramsay said he understood the current financial constraints, but added that it was important that the council was seen to be supporting local communities who are trying to keep their roads and pathways safe.

He stressed that the people he had been speaking with were prepared to spread the grit and salt themselves.

It was just the supply of boxes and grit or salt that they needed.

Independent councillor Sean Carr, who runs an undertaking business, said that he recently had to employ a private contractor to salt roads around Long Tower church in Derry so that a funeral could take place.

Cllr Carr said he had tried to access grit and equipment through the Triax organisation but that it had proven difficult to access this.

When he did, Cllr Carr said it was not adequate for the job needed.

Cllr Carr said that when he had tried to contact Roads Service about the issue, he had been put through to someone in Belfast.

He said that in previous years, local councillors would have been able to contact local Roads Service staff to get such matters sorted.

Councillors at yesterday's meeting agreed to a proposal from Alderman Ramsay that they write to the Roads Service's divisional manager and the Infrastructure Minister to highlight their concerns about the local gritting services and ways they can be improved.

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