THIEVES are putting lives at risk stealing salt from roadside bunkers in Wrexham.

Not only have they been taking large quantities of grit – left at strategic points across the borough to keep roads ice free in sub-zero conditions – but some have even turned up in pick-up trucks to carry away the bunkers themselves.

The shocking revelation came from Cllr David Bithell, Wrexham’s lead member for transport and the environment.

He said: “Over the past week or so we’ve been receiving reports at our call centre telling us that people have been seen stealing salt from the bunkers, which are usually placed near to where the roads have steep gradients, such as Bwlchgwyn and Brymbo.

“This has happened on a number occasions.

“There have been cases where quantities of salt have been stolen and in other cases pick-up trucks have been used to take the salt and even the containers it is stored in.

“This is a very anti-social thing for anyone to do as people who live on higher ground really need it and it is there to assist those in difficulties.

“We have also had calls from people who have been upset after seeing vehicles being used to steal the salt and who have passed on registration numbers to us.

“We are consulting with North Wales Police with a view to considering prosecutions and we are also seeking advice from our legal team.”

Cllr Bithell said that despite the arctic weather of the past couple of weeks, Wrexham Council was coping well with salt supplies.

The authority started the winter with a total stock of 7,000 tonnes and currently has 5,000 tonnes remaining.

Because of the extremely low temperatures and the high risk of ice forming on the roads, gritting teams are going out twice a day – at about 2-3am and 4-6pm.

Cllr Bithell said: “If the weather carries on the way it has for many more weeks we would have a problem but our forecasts are predicting warmer weather by the end of this week, so hopefully we will have some respite.

“We have also just had an extra £253,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government to pay for extra salt and to repair the potholes in our roads being caused by the severe weather.

“Basically we are okay at the moment but we do not know what January and February will bring.

“I think we are definitely seeing the effects of climate change.”