Why a £1.1 million mega salt barn could be built at Elland

If the council decides to go ahead, the new salt barn would be developed at the Ainleys, Elland, depot. It would be the council's largest building
If the council decides to go ahead, the new salt barn would be developed at the Ainleys, Elland, depot. It would be the council's largest building

A new £1.1 million purpose-built mega-sized salt barn could help Calderdale store its winter supplies of grit with less waste and cost savings.

But before committing their support to the project – for what would be the council’s largest building – councillors have requested more work to be done on the number-crunching.

Calderdale Council officers had been asked to formulate the proposal, which would see the 10,000 tonne capacity salt barn built as part of reconfiguration of Ainleys Depot at Elland.

The council’s Corporate Asset and Facilities Management (CAFM) Asset Management Board were asked to support officers’ preferred option for the salt barn proposal, which due to the cost involved will require consideration by both Cabinet and the full Calderdale Council.

Officers anticipate savings from salt usage of around £34,000 per year which could be set aside to meet the extra prudential borrowing costs used to fund the capital project.

But councillors have asked for more detailed work to be done on the figures, when the board will examine the option again.

Referring to the cost, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said: “In the current climate we need to be absolutely sure.”

If they eventually decide to make the case to Cabinet and council for the single large salt barn to serve Calderdale, with an existing covered store at Holme End Depot, Mytholmroyd, also being retained for the council’s winter policy purposes, it would become the council’s largest building.

As such the salt barn, which would have to be specially designed, would carry ongoing maintenance and running costs.

But officers believe that with average stocks of more than 18,000 tonnes of salt stocked by the council as part of its winter maintenance service, savings would be worth it.

Figures for salt usage over the last five years have, at £32 per tonne, varied from relatively low usage of £192,000 worth in 2013-14 through figures of £416,000 in 2014-15, £403,200 in 2015-16 and £358,400 in 2016-17 to almost £1 million last winter, 2017-18.

The icy and snowy conditions which saw snow still falling on Easter Monday, saw 31,000 tonnes of salt used, around double the average amount (10,700 tonnes).

This cost the council around £2.7m, which is £1.5m more than the average cost for a winter, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) has said.

In the recent past main stockpiles of salt have been placed at the Ainleys depot and at the Stannary depot in Halifax, with the latter to disappear as part of the ambitious Beech Hill housing redevelopment project, plus a tarpaulin-covered supply at Holme End.

With the council effectively storing almost double its average use of salt, which works well from a “just in case” perspective, it is hugely inefficient, said the officers’ report, with open stockpiles subject to the elements causing erosion and run-off of salt which both washes concentrated salt into drains and water courses and wastes money.

But with the build meaning the council would have to budget £61,000 a year for the 25-year borrowing period and around £35,000 a year in running costs, councillors asked for more work to be done on the savings which would benefit the authority in the long run.

Officers say that using comparatives from other authorities efficiency of 10 to 15 per cent would be targeted – an anticipated £34,000 per year.