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CLA members put grit at the top of their Christmas list

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The CLA says that many areas saw a marked improvement in snow clearing over the snowy period compared to last winter, with many more farmers and agricultural contractors clearing rural roads under contract.

However, there is still room for improvement, says the Association, and restoring access to rural areas was the main concern among CLA members in the North East.

Daily calls from members to the CLAs North East Director, backed up by a snapshot survey, underlined the devastation that snow and ice can bring to the rural economy, with farm buildings collapsing, water supplies frozen, workers and fuel unable to get in, and stock unable to get out.

Angus Collingwood-Cameron, CLA North East Director, said: It was certainly heartening to see the tractors ploughing the side roads during the snow fall period, but that is only half the story.

Many roads were passable for four wheel drive vehicles, but not for much else. Livestock and animal feed could not be moved. People could not get out to work. Post was not delivered to many places for nearly two weeks, and the same was true for coal and fuel oil. As time went by, the ploughing turned the side roads into sheets of ice. After the snow stopped, it was a full week before a gritter passed my door, and I live on the edge of a village.

I know that Council budgets are tight, but could we not look to duplicate the contractor ploughing scenario, with gritting equipment? This would avoid any capital spend for the Council and should deliver a better service. We should expect grit supplies to be adequate – and available in more places – enabling more people to help keep the countryside open for business.

Our members have made it very clear that keeping roads open is a priority when you are in relatively remote areas trying to make a living.

It is unacceptable for anyone to say that the cost of dealing with these relatively rare occurrences is more than the cost of shutting down the country for a couple of days. It is not.

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