FLINTSHIRE’S opposition leader hit out at the council for slashing its winter maintenance budget.

Cllr Aaron Shotton said the council’s decision to cut its gritting budget by half a million pounds last year put lives in danger.

He said: “The Labour group warned the council against slashing the contingency gritting budget by £500 million last April and while council workers do an excellent job I am concerned that due to this reduction the council executive has under-estimated the amount of grit needed to be kept in reserve for the bad weather.”

But deputy council leader Cllr Tony Sharps, portfolio holder for environment, insisted the council had sufficient grit supplies and would always have seven days worth of rock salt in storage.

He said: “Council gritting teams continue to work around the clock on Flintshire’s roads as the snow and freezing conditions continue.

“The council currently has a week’s supply of salt to treat priority routes twice a day.

This means our 12 front-line gritters are covering 400 miles of road every time they go out – 47 per cent of the road network – using 150 – 200 tonnes every 24 hours.”

Cllr Shotton also criticised the council’s failure to grit the footpaths in the county’s sheltered housing complexes.

He said: “Vulnerable pensioners in council accommodation should be a priority in such conditions. A slip or a fall can be life-threatening to an elderly resident.”

But Cllr Sharps told the Leader that the sheltered housing complexes were a matter for the council’s housing maintenance department and plans were in place to grit the complexes as soon as possible.