After the cold 2009/10 winter, last summer Cornwall Council decided to look again at its policy on road salting and grit bins. They slightly extended the network of roads which will be salted but decided to pull out of responsibility for grit bins within 12 months. They wrote to all town and parish councils asking them whether they wanted to take over responsibility.
Unfortunately, there was no money offered to help towns and parishes to do this, despite a single grit bin sometimes costing as much as the entire precept for a small parish. And so just four responded to say they would do so - Grampound, Mevagissey, Perran-ar-Worthal and Newquay. A lot of parishes have no grit bins to take over, but this tiny response has forced the Council into a re-think.
The scrutiny committee covering this issue was offered three choices:
- continue with the current policy and remove grit bins in all but those four parishes;
- keep the current grit bin network but only fill them once per year, forcing towns and parishes to pay if they want a re-stocking;
- revert to the old policy of Cornwall Council management of grit bins.
In the end, the committee chose to recommend the middle option which will see the current network maintained. I would have preferred to devolve the matter to towns and parishes, but this cannot be done simply by Cornwall Council dumping the service. There has to be some recognition of the financial impact, particularly on smaller parishes.