Jan 6 2010 By Ian Proctor
STOCKS of road grit to make Harrow's roads passable may only last three more days of heavy snowfall after a vital order of salt failed to arrive.
Harrow Council said it had had to take measures to conserve the 560 tonnes it had left at its depot in Forward Drive, Wealdstone, following Tuesday evening's icy weather.
Councillor Susan Hall (Conservative), the council's portfolio holder for the environment, said: "We had ordered 1,000 tonnes of extra salt for this month but the supplier has so far not come up with it, which has basically left us high and dry. We'll do what we can, but if salt suppliers don't honour their obligations, it doesn't leave us much room for manoeuvre."
Council contractor EnterpriseMouchel has a designated 129km circuit of major roads in the borough that its gritting lorries complete up to four times when the forecast demands it.
If they spread the salt at the highest density to combat thick ice and snow, the council calculates it would have only three days' supply left. But at the sparser setting – which the council decided to use on Tuesday night - the stocks could be stretched to around a fortnight.
A spokesman for supplier Salt Union, based in Winsford, Chesire, said: "The current spell of weather is the most severe and prolonged the UK as a whole has seen for some 20 years and the situation in Harrow is being mirrored to varying degrees across the whole of the UK.
"We would obviously like to be able to fulfil every authority’s needs in full but the reality of the situation at present is that that is simply not possible. Our mine is Cheshire is working 24 hours-a-day seven days-a-week but, even at our maximum output of 30,000 tonnes a week, it is not possible to sustain the unprecedented level of repeat orders coming in.
"We are therefore working closely with customers and with Government agencies to try to prioritise deliveries according to local needs."
The London Local Authority Co-ordination Centre, a committee that helps regulate gritting stocks across the capital, met on Tuesday to ensure every council has reserves to cover a minimum of two days of heavy snow.
Brent Council, whose salt is also stored at Forward Drive, said it was down to just 250 tonnes for the same reason as Harrow and so would continue to prioritise the main streets.