WREXHAM Council is preparing to stock up on grit salt after one of the worst winters in years.

New figures released show the authority used more than 10,700 tonnes of grit last winter in the wake of Storm Emma and the Beast from the East, which disrupted travel and closed schools across the UK.

It comes as council leader Mark Pritchard has pledged not to cut the annual winter service budget of £500,000 because of the way the funding kept the county’s roads running during a difficult period, when parts of the Ceiriog Valley saw snow drifts of up to 10 feet.

It was also revealed that the council was forced to eat into reserves of £300,000 to tackle icy roads, but that amount has now been replenished.

Cllr David A Bithell, lead member for environment and transport, said its winter policy had been reviewed as part of preparations for this year and largely kept the same.

He said: “Last winter we had the Beast from the East, which as you’re aware is probably one of the worst weathers we’ve had going back to 2012/13 when it (grit usage) peaked to 10,860 tonnes.

“Last year we had another peak of nearly 11,000 tonnage used on our highways.

“We were well tested last year and once again I’d like to place on record our thanks to our street scene staff.

“Officers are now currently just preparing for this winter.

“You might see the odd gritter running around in the next few weeks for training purposes and making sure everbody is up to speed.”

Cllr Bithell said claims by motorists against the council because of the condition of roads were above the Welsh average.

However, he said officers were working with other authorities to discuss a new code of practice.

He said: “You do have spikes and I think last winter was probably a particularly difficulty, especially with the weather.

“Obviously the roads do crumble, people do put claims in and the council do, wherever possible, try and defend the council’s position.

“Unfortunately like any other situation, we do pay claims out, especially if it’s justified.

“We all get criticism at times for people saying ‘you haven’t come down my road or ‘you haven’t come down this particular road’, but the reality is it’s about maintaining our strategic network.”

Council leader Pritchard added he wanted to reassure the public that the winter service budget would not be reduced.

It comes despite Wrexham Council needing to make cuts of £13 million over the next two years.

He said: “We will not cut it and I think it would be foolish to do so.

“The most important thing is that we send the message out that Wrexham is open for business.

“We have one of the largest industrial estates, we have the prison, we have the hospital.

“We cannot cut this service and I’ve never been in the camp of doing so.”

Executive board members will discuss both the authority’s winter service policy and a highway safety inspection report at their meeting next Tuesday.