Residents and some councillors had one message for Calderdale Council after a week in deep freeze - show us some grit, before someone is seriously injured or killed.
Just days after the council outlined its new winter policy to ensure it complies with a new national code of practice titled Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure, a cold snap hit the borough and triggered a wave of complaints with accounts of sliding vehicles, slipping children and serious safety concerns about previously gritted routes, some of which no longer have grit bins so residents could do the worst spots themselves if need be.
Residents of the streets which feed onto Kebroyd Lane, Ripponden, say it became treacherous when iced up, being a narrow, steep, winding, dual use - no footpaths, used by drivers and pedestrians including children - and with a blocked drain spilling out onto the road surface from an underground water course freezing like sheet ice.
It is also an area where there are several elderly neighbours who rely on their daily visits from carers, whose time is cut short if they have to park at the bottom of the road and walk up if it is dangerously icy. Children have been slipping on the ice too, say residents with an instance of a vehicle sliding on the ice across the road and hitting the wall at a time when children were walking down the road. Similar problems were described by people in other areas of the borough on similar sorts of roads.
Resident Suzanne Powell has complained to the council and said: “Once you start to slide you do not stop until you hit something which makes you stop...somebody has made this decision and must be made accountable for the accidents this morning. I can only see more serious accidents happening. Let us hope that there is not a fatality.”
She believed the cost to the public purse generally, if numbers of people were injured, would be more than gritting costs.
Similar accounts from residents on routes from Cornholme to Queensbury were reported to the Halifax Courier through the week.
Sandra Rout spoke about areas including Wainstalls Lane, Hays Lane and Lowe Lane which were among 200 routes no longer being salted and pointed on the wider effect of the policy on the community - an effect it was likely to have on hundreds of roads in Calderdale.
“We have a a nurse and a GP here, we have elderly people here, a family that needs carers, families with children and teachers who need to get to school. On Tuesday one of my neighbours had an accident and crashed the car taking her childrren to school. These routes have been gritted for 30 years,” she said.
David and Pat Gomersal said Hob Lane, Norland - the couple ran The Hobbit at Norland for many years - was not terribly steep but was winding and narrow and, crucially, as a moorland road, subject to water running on it all the time, exacerbated by a blocked drain. Pat got out of her car and slipped on the ice, breaking a bone in her foot.
“As soon as we get snow and ice it is going to be absolute chaos. No-one will be able to get out of here,” said David.
Councillors in areas heavily affected have received a steady stream of complaints from constituents.
Ripponden councillor Geraldine Carter said that Calderdale citizens living in rural areas paid Council Tax as well as those in better gritted urban areas - including some routes which might not be as badly affected but were bus routes - but added they were not receiving an adequate service.