Call for more gritting of Thanet’s ‘ice rink’ roads and pavements

Addington Street Photo by Ian Shacklock

Icy conditions have been causing issues for drivers and pedestrians across Thanet.

Despite primary route gritting by Kent Highways, many side roads and pavements have remained precarious with reports of people falling and vehicles sliding on the icy surfaces.

Thanet council, which is not responsible for gritting, has taken matters into hand with staff teams out gritting the main high streets, majority of car parks and slopes and steps of promenades. Staff from Ramsgate Town Council have also been out salting slippery areas.

In Ramsgate one youngster was spotted clearing the road of ice and the Bedford Inn boss was seen clearing a long stretch of path, in Margate a parked car was hit by a bus yesterday and another car today and in Birchington numerous pedestrians slid over in the high street. In Birchington former councillor Suzanne Brimm pulled on the Doc Martens to go out and see if she could help by salting pavements.

Photo by Ian Shacklock

County Councillor Karen Constantine has written to authority leader Roger Gough to ask for more gritting.

She said: “The KCC gritting response isn’t strong enough in my division of Ramsgate. More needs to be done and quickly.

“I am, of course urging people not to make unnecessary journeys, whether by foot or by car. But for some people, they must venture out for essential supplies, food, medicines and so on. We have an elderly population and many residents with disabilities all of whom are at an disadvantage and additional risk in this extreme cold snap. Our roads and pavements are extremely icy. In particular we are a town built across hills, all roads lead down.

Addington Street Photo by Ian Shacklock

“I am hearing far too many reports of people hurting themselves, of damage to cars and in some cases to properties. I’m also hearing of older and disabled residents being directed to obtain salt out of salt bins to deal with pathways themselves. This isn’t acceptable to frail and elderly people.

“Most of Ramsgate is an ice rink. In particular there are no gritted paths – which are essential. Volunteers are cleaning streets but more needs to be done.

Addington Street Photo by Ian Shacklock

“In particular pathways along Percy Avenue, The Plains of Waterloo and Hollicondane Road are very treacherous and are much needed routes to the town centre.

“We know the problems a cold snap brings and we should be much better prepared. In advance of a proposed Kent County Council tax rise from 4% to 5% at the budget, many residents are perplexed at how existing money is being spent, let alone any new money! I’m also concerned that KCC are telling people not to clear their own pavements and shopfronts. Ramsgate keeps getting left behind. It’s just not good enough.”

Photo by Ian Shacklock
Ramsgate resident Ian Shacklock is calling for dangerous roads to be closed. He explained that he reported a road after witnessing several near misses,
He said: “Cars and vans were unable to stop at a junction with busy West Cliff Road. I suggested that KCC should close the end of Addington Street. The icy situation meant vans were going out of control.
“I didn’t ask for any gritting or intensive effort; just an emergency road closure. How dangerous must a hazard become before it is taken seriously?”
Ramsgate District Councillor Becky Wing has raised her concerns, adding:“No-one can say we were not warned about the snow and ice to hit Kent and Thanet and along with most locals we just can not see where KCC have applied grit in Thanet.
Photo by Ian Shacklock
“Locals reported movie like footage of car, vans and lorries skidding off Elms Avenue and Addington Street straight onto the busy Westcliff Road. We were lucky no one was seriously hurt. I reported Addington Street on Monday evening to KCC and was told a crew would be out within two hours, we are still waiting. I am aware we have no money and that Kent is a massive area but continue to feel Thanet is often overlooked and left till last. We are now into day three, so just where is our gritting service?”
Thanet council said: “Having had snow and freezing conditions for two days, the roads and pavements are very slippery. People should be staying at home for everything except essential journeys however, if people do have to go out, we would urge them to take the utmost care.

“KCC Highways is responsible for gritting roads however we have deployed Thanet District Council officers to undertake supplementary gritting in public spaces. Thanet has hundreds of miles of paths and pavements so we cannot cover all areas.  Our Civil Enforcement Officers, from the parking team have been out and have gritted all car parks except Minnis Bay, St Mildred’s and Broadstairs Harbour which will be done in the coming days by the Minor Works team.
“There has also been some gritting of pavements around Pay and Display bays in Margate High Street, Broadstairs High Street as well as Queen Street and Leopold Street, Ramsgate. The Open Spaces team with the help of our Street Cleansing staff, has assisted where possible to grit main high street areas. Work is also being done to grit steps and slopes of the Promenades.”

Cabinet member at KCC for highways Michael Payne says  “all primary routes, including Ramsgate, have been treated at least five times since Saturday with ample quantities of salt. In addition, today local teams (have been) targeting specific areas based on their local plans.”