With all the bad weather the Council's road salting crews have been working round the clock to make sure that as many of the county's major routes are open. But this is leading to a rapidly diminishing stock of road salt.
According to one of the senior council officers in charge, we are now reaching critical levels and urgently need a re-supply. Cornwall Council buys its road salt from a company in Northern Ireland. An order for more salt was placed before Christmas but it seems that there is difficulty in finding a boat to bring it to Cornwall.
According to the officer, Cornwall currently has enough salt for a further 6 days of operations at the current level of working. If a boat can be found to transport the salt then it will take 72 hours to arrive here. That means that if no transport can be found by Friday then salting operations will have to be scaled back.
Although we have a reciprocal arrangement with Plymouth City Council and have 500 tons of salt on the way from them, that is likely to be the full extent of what they can give us as they have their own roads to worry about.
So should we be blaming the Council for inadequate preparations? In this case I don't think so. The depot at Scorrier holds enough salt for one and a half winters of 'normal' operations, but has got through its salt at an unprecedented rate this year. Maybe we should be looking to have a supplier that is not reliant on boat transport, but would anyone closer have enough stocks?
I'm full of admiration for the work that the salting crews have been able to do, but it does seem that we are reaching a critical time. After the current problems have been dealt with I think Cornwall Council needs to have a proper review of its salting operations and salt stores.