THIEVES are putting lives at risk by stealing thousands of pounds worth of rock salt and grit bins, according to a Flintshire community leader.

Cllr Tony Sharps, executive member for environment, said the council is battling against thieves who steal the grit quicker than workers can fill the bins.

He said: “We can’t legislate against the thieves. Most areas are having it pinched and not only are they stealing the salt, but the bins as well.”

The salt in the roadside bins is for members of the public to grit the pavements themselves but Cllr Sharps suspects it is being stolen to grit people’s private driveways.

He added: “It’s a very selfish and dangerous procedure and it’s a big problem that is costing thousands of pounds.”

North Flintshire Inspector Dave Roome said he had received no reports of grit thefts but would be monitoring the situation.

He said: “At this moment in time we have not been notified of any thefts of grit bins, but it is something I will keep an eye on and I would encourage the local authorities to report any incidents to us.”

Fears are also growing that the county could run out of salt supplies.

Buckley Councillor Ron Hampson told the Leader: “The crews are doing well but the supplies seem to be running out.

"The estate roads in Buckley are in a treacherous state, they are not filling the grit bins or doing the sheltered accommodation.

“I have heard that they are queuing to get the salt in Cheshire and we are only two weeks into the winter.”

But Cllr Sharps insisted there was no shortage of salt and said grit bins were filled up yesterday.

“I just ask that people be patient for the time being,” he said.

“There’s definitely no shortage of salt. We have several hundred tonnes still in stock and we have the best record in Wales for gritting.

“The men are working around the clock and are a credit to the local authority. When you look at other parts of the country who haven’t got any grit or snow ploughs then Flintshire is doing well.”