Councillors have warned that Aberdeenshire Council’s plan to make savings of £1million on winter road maintenance is an “accident waiting to happen”.
Banff and Buchan councillors were briefed on the proposal yesterday, which could result in road workers not leaving their depots until 8am to grit major pathways.
Members of the local area committee branded the scheme a mistake – and urged a re-think before the details go to the authority’s infrastructure services committee for review.
Chairman John Cox said: “I think this is an accident waiting to happen.”
But Bill Lennox, speaking on behalf of the authority at the committee meeting in Fraserburgh, said that much of what the council already delivers would remain unchanged.
“We learned the lesson from the winter of five or six years ago – we are not running down salt stocks,” he added.
“We start the year with full stocks. But it is a fact that no mater what level we see, we would not keep every road and footpath clear of snow. It is not achievable.”
As part of the plan, workers would also not grit some routes through rural Aberdeenshire unless they were convinced that road temperatures would remain at zero degrees for a period of 48 hours.
Troup councillor Hamish Partridge said the rural roads were “vital” for some communities.
Councillor Mark Findlater added: “I have a lot of constituents complaining about footpaths being iced up. I can’t see why our staff can’t start and finish earlier.
“There are some days where there’s ice all day.”
Councillor Ross Cassie said businesses would be put at risk.
He said: “The world of commerce and industry is a lot different to the old nine to five. If the footpaths are not treated until 8am, a lot of people have already been put at risk.”