Ross and Cromarty residents have been warned that some of their roads will not be gritted over the weekend, in a departure from previous years.
Main roads will be treated in the mornings from 6am on Saturday and Sunday, but less busy routes will not be treated at all.
Local councillors expressed concern at the news, asking for a concerted effort to inform the public.
Councillor Mike Finlayson said: “This is a massive change for folk. People will be leaving early on a Saturday morning to head for Inverness not realising the roads haven’t been gritted.”
Councillor Carolyn Wilson said: “This is a change from last year, and not the service level people expect. We must be clear and open so that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
“We’re not serving the public properly otherwise.”
The change was announced by the council’s roads operations manager, Iain Moncrieffe at the council’s Ross & Cromarty area meeting in Dingwall yesterday.
He told councillors that the weekend changes were in response to the council’s current winter maintenance policy approved in August by the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee.
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Councillors agreed that a standard weekend service should be introduced, with the same service level being provided on both Saturdays and Sundays.
The service level was not specified, with each area left to work within its local budget.
Mr Moncrieffe said that within the Ross & Cromarty area budget, Monday to Friday services would remain as they were before, but there would be winners and losers over the weekend, and it would be controversial.
He said: “There are no extra drivers, or gritters, no extra money.
“At the weekend, the primary routes where the main areas of population are will be treated, but some roads will not be treated at all.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “Revised Saturday and Sunday route treatment plans are for mornings only. “These will be the routes covered in frosty and icy conditions.
“In the event of significant snow accumulations the service would be increased to deal with such situations.”