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MLA presses Minister for additional resources for more gritting in Newry & Armagh

A Newry and Armagh MLA has said he intends to continue to press Infrastructure Minister for extra resources to ensure more gritting in rural areas of the constituency.

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy raised the issue at a recent question time session.

And he pledged to continue to pursue the matter after the Minister highlighted the winter salting arrangements for the Southern Area earlier this week.

Mr Kennedy said he called for additional resources and gritting to “support communities in these localities during the winter period”.

He said: “It is absolutely vital that rural communities are provided with necessary resources during the winter period to protect the safety of road networks in these areas and to ensure that residents have freedom of movement in potentially treacherous conditions.

“I am conscious from my time as Minister for Regional Development of the difficulties and hazards posed to rural communities during periods of adverse weather.

“I therefore took the opportunity to raise the issue of resources with the Minister ahead of the forthcoming winter season.

“The Minister has confirmed the issue will be reviewed on a constituency to constituency basis and I intend to press for the maximum level of resources for rural areas of Newry and Armagh.”

Transport NI Southern Divisional Manager, Simon Richardson this week confirmed arrangements for the local area as they stand.

He said: “Throughout the winter season from now until the April, we will have 74 staff on standby in Southern Division to salt main roads, helping drivers to cope with wintry conditions.  Salt barns and stockpiles are being filled to maximum capacity in Southern Division which carries out salting in the council areas of Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon and Newry, Mourne & Down.

“When ice or snow is forecast, we have 31 gritters available which can salt the main network in just over three hours, a massive logistical exercise that costs around £20,000 each time it takes place.

“TransportNI will continue to provide salt bins and grit piles at strategic locations and will endeavour to replenish them during the winter. The salt bins and grit piles will be for use on a self help basis to help prevent the formation of snow and ice on pavements and untreated roads. ”

Arrangements will also be in place in place to enlist the help of contractors, including farmers, to clear blocked roads and TransportNI has introduced enhanced communication arrangements and priority secondary salting to rural schools that are most affected by wintery weather conditions.

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