Unions attack councillor’s grit plan

Coun Bob Brierley aboard his snow plough-quad bike which is now fitted with a grit spreader at the rear
Coun Bob Brierley aboard his snow plough-quad bike which is now fitted with a grit spreader at the rear

THE latest plan by a councillor to carry out council services has been attacked by local unions.

Last week Coun Bob Brierley was taking lessons on the safe use of a mowing machine which he intends to use this summer to keep unruly grass verges in his Hindley Green ward under control.

But today he is thinking of the depths of winter after buying a gritting machine to treat roads and pavements in the town.

He has attached it to his existing Quad based snow plough ready to produce a package that is ready for action as soon as the temperatures start to plunge and the ice forms.

Independent Group member Coun Brierley says he will “fill in” where the council haven’t got the resources or time to grit.

And he will be offering his labour and use of the machine for free - although he expects to be supplied with council grit like one of their regular gritters.

Coun Brierley says he has no intention of replacing professional council highways maintenance staff, but he will be happy to supplement their duties.

He believes that his annual councillor allowance of £9,000-plus per annum should be regarded by all councillors as covering wages for such civic minded duties during the gritting-season to come.

Coun Brierley described the purchase of the gritter machine as honouring a promise he had already made to constituents after complaints last winter that some pensioners had become prisoners in their own homes because of deficiencies in the council’s own gritting programme.

He said: “I am sure that this will prove to be a really great asset in helping our residents of Hindley Green.

“It is the final pledge of my gift to the residents of Hindley Green where I made reference to buying a salt spreading gritter to grit the side street and footpaths.

“This will mean next winter no matter what the weather throws at us that the hard working residents of Hindley Green will get the chance to get to work.”

However, branch secretary of the union representing most council workers, Unison, Stuart Fenton, said: “Unison does not believe that members of the public or councillors should be undermining public services by taking duties of qualified staff and putting in the hand of a novice.

“We are left asking will Coun Brierley be offering to dig graves next and just where does this end.

“He must have a lot of money to pay the insurance costs.”

Council Head of Infrastructure Mark Tilley said: “The council has a dedicated gritting team that has been trained for the requirements of the job.

“We also have specialist gritting equipment that complies with the legal requirements needed for gritting a public highway.”