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Road gritting review gets green light from Powys cabinet

THE SECOND phase of deciding which roads in Powys will be gritted as a priority in winter has been agreed unanimously by councillors.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, March 28, councillors looked at the proposal for phase two of the winter service review which will eventually see the priority routes agreed.

The financial analysis of the proposals will only be available once the new route maps have been drafted.

Portfolio holder for highways and transport, Cllr Jackie Charlton said: “The gritting routes in Powys have not been reviewed for over 20 years.

“It’s important to emphasise that this review is based on delivering best practice, it’s time to make gritting equitable across our roads.”
The new way of deciding priority gritting routes will be made on a “risk and evidence based approach.”

This means that a number of factors will be considered for each road which includes traffic volume, public transport, location of schools, hospitals, medical centres, care homes and emergency services.

Cllr Jackie Charlton

Cllr Charlton said:  “Once the hierarchy has been established through councillors and then, education and health services partners and others, we’re hoping to set up a small focus group for the public to tell us what they feel is important to them.”

“Once that’s done, the maps will be allocated and there will be that opportunity to go to scrutiny with that hierarchy and the maps to assess that and bring back to cabinet.”

Education portfolio holder Cllr Pete Roberts said: “That methodical approach is something I strongly welcome as it removes the emotion from decision making rather than a constant lobbying approach with all and sundry saying I want my road (gritted) because.”

Opposition independent group leader, Cllr Heulwen Hulme welcomed the decision and said: “This is overdue as work did start on this pre-covid and was pushed to the back somewhat during those very difficult years.”

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“I’m looking forward to see it go forward at pace.”

Head of highways, transport and recycling, Matt Perry stressed that the department needed to keep: “within the existing financial envelope.”

“That has to be at the back of our minds,” said Mr Perry.

The first phase of the Winter Service review was agreed back in October 2019.

Powys has 5,500 kilometres of road, the second biggest road network in the whole of the UK.

This is made up of 431km of trunk roads, 238km of County (category A) roads, 2,706km of B and C and 2,126km of minor surface roads.

In Powys the trunk roads such as the A470 and A483 are managed by the North and Mid Wales Trunk agency on behalf of the government.

The five potential “tiers” which go from high to low priority are:

Tier 1 – Purple –  is seen as a strategic road with a traffic volume of 20,000 vehicles or more, likely to be “A” or class one roads.

Tier 2 – Blue – Roads with a traffic volume of 5,000 to 10,000 vehicles – secondary factors also include the location bus stations and car parks and it’s likely to cover Powys’s bigger towns of  Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Machynlleth, Newtown and Ystradgynlais.

Tier 3 – Grey – these are likely to be the roads in and out of the county’s larger villages.

Tier 4 – Yellow – roads to and from smaller villages.

Tier 5 – Orange – minor roads likely to be to and from “rural” or “limited growth settlements.”