Council expresses fury at town’s lack of gritting

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

MID-ULSTER District council is to meet with the manager of the Western Division of Transport NI in an attempt to improve the area's gritting provisions.

During the last spell of cold and icy weather Dungannon town centre came to a standstill as the icy made roads in the area dangerous.

In Perry Street a lorry was stuck for up to two hours, the lower half of Scotch Street was closed and traffic was diverted forcing staff from the local bus depot to come out with buckets of salt to salt the road in order to allow traffic to pass.

The situation was so precarious that it led to the PSNI taking to social media to assure people that the town had returned to normal.

"Dungannon Town Centre is now back to normal, a speedy response by our colleagues in DFI (Departmenf for Infrastructure) means the town has all been gritted," read the post.

However, this situation has drawn criticism from local representatives.

Speaking at the council's monthly meeting, DUP councilor Clement Cuthbertson criticised the council's winter agreement with Transport NI.

"This agreement doesn't work," he said. "No town centre should come to a complete standstill because of a bit of snow. Council officers need to go back to Transport NI and get this sorted as what is in place is not working.

"We need to speak with them again, it simply wasn't working. We have the interest of the town at heart so we need to do something to prevent this situation happening again."

His comment were echoed by Sinn Fein's Dominic Molloy who added that he felt Transport NI had "fallen down on their responsibilities" with their handling of the situation.

At this point SInn Fein Councillor Cathal Mallaghan asked what had happened to material the council had agreed to publish at December's meeting as he had not seen any of it and stated that he felt "let down by Transport NI".

"It is my understanding they carried out a route optimisation last year and as a result they have removed one gritter from this local route and it is taking longer now to get the gritting carried out and maybe that leads to the road freezing before they have been fully gritted.

"Also I think Transport NI's helpline over the weekend, was embarrassing. It seemed that everyone in the organisation went to ground. I rang the 24 hour line and was told "nobody is here".

"It is an unacceptable service that way it stands at the moment".

The Council agreed to write to the Western Division Manager of Transport NI to express their disappointment with the current situation and to invite him to attend the next Council meeting.


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