“DON’T panic” – that is the message being sent to residents and businesses in Flintshire as the Arctic weather tightens its freezing grip on the county.

As gritters battle around the clock, people are stealing from salt bins at an “alarming rate”, it has been claimed.

But Flintshire Council deputy leader Cllr Tony Sharps is reassuring residents there is enough grit to cope.

He said: “My advice is don’t panic. There is more grit on the way and we are quite happy with stocks at the moment.

“We have a new additive in the grit that sticks to the surface and does not get washed away.

“Things are ticking over very nicely thanks to the new systems and the dedication of the managers and the grit drivers. They are working around the clock.

“I call them those ‘magnificent men in their gritting machines’. They are doing a fantastic job. It is so obvious when people enter Flintshire because of the condition of the roads.”

Temperatures in Flintshire plummeted to -13C over Sunday night while forecasts are for the sub-zero conditions to continue until Thursday.

Cllr Sharps said: “There is still a lot of bad weather in store. Everything is under control. However, grit is being stolen from grit bins at an alarming rate.

“The thieves are more of a problem than the weather. I would appeal once again, please stop taking the grit. Go to your local DIY store and there is plenty there.”

Residents from across the county have however complained about a lack of gritting on side roads while main roads remain clear.

Steve Jones, head of Streetscene, said: “Currently the stock level is at about 40 per cent of the opening balance and additional deliveries are being received daily.

“This is sufficient for approximately 21 days continuous action with a single daily turnout and six days for continuous action in the event of heavy snowfall. Salt bins were filled ahead of the current snowfall.”

- A spokesman for the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said: “Due to the heavy snowfall this weekend the situation is much worse for many authorities from north to south, with only a few days salt supply remaining in many authorities.

“Local authority gritting and ploughing teams have been working flat out to keep Wales moving, prioritising main roads, which generally have remained open as a result of their efforts.

“To deal with the current salt pressures facing some authorities, mutual aid is already happening between the Welsh Assembly Government and those local authorities needing urgent deliveries.

“The WLGA is in regular discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government and local authorities over their salt supply and we are also waiting the import of 12,000 tonnes of extra salt at the end of this month.”