Manchester City Council

A Winter's Tale

Lots of complaints that I haven't been blogging about gritting, which is a subject, unusually, on many people’s minds at the moment. We have, even for the time of year, had a bout of exceptional weather. Prolonged snow and prolonged sub-zero temperatures have caused lots of disruption and have made travel hazardous everywhere. This hasn't just happened to Manchester but is widespread across the UK and Europe and in the USA it's even worse.

Newspapers, TV, radio, all repeat the same message - if you don't need to travel, don't!  Was the Council prepared? and what are we doing?  Well I have checked and am told that we have lots of salt and that our gritters are out 24/7 - concentrating on priority routes. That means if you live on a little side street (like me) you're not going to see a gritter any time soon. I recognise a lot of people are being seriously inconvenienced but as yet the Council does not control the weather and this is what happens when we have lots of snow and ice. 

This is probably going to be my last blog before Christmas (unless I have a sudden flurry of activity tomorrow) so to everybody have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  2009, the recession, has been a very difficult year for many people in the city, but I'm confident that whilst 2010 might not be easy, it will be a lot, lot better. And if times are hard, there's nowhere I'd rather be than Manchester.

There are 24 responses to “A Winter's Tale”

  1. Gerry Meenz Says:

    Now come on. Bad weather is predicable. Why not leave a quantity of salt and sand either at the side of the road or in containers for use of residents and businesses in the 'side streets' and as more sophisticated authorities do both in the UK and abroad. Please don't bury your head in the sand.

  2. Qunetin Crispy Duck Says:

    If the gritter are out 24/7 they must be congratulated on the effectiveness of their new snow camouflage paint.I've seen two of the old type gritters (the ones that don't blend in with the snow for covert gritting). Bravo secret gritters, the roads are dangerous but you have stayed well hidden.

  3. Ian MvcGinty Says:

    I have just been for a walk in Heaton park and the car park and surrounding footpaths are a joke and you have te cheek to still charge a £1 to use the carpark. While i understand about the sideroads one gritter running around the park would have made it a lot safer for people to walk around and probably saved the council a fortune in claims from people falling on the ice.even dropping grit at the entrance to the carpark would probably made some difference, because it didn`t look like any was dropped on the roads

  4. Luba Says:

    I am increasingly amused by your partonising tone in these blogs. I don't accept your assurance that the gritters were out '24/7' on priority routes and anyone who had to drive on Rochdale Road, Victoria Avenue or indeed any of the other major roads in North Manchester, will find it hard to accept too. The volume of traffic was the only thing that had any affect. Yes, the weather was bad in other countries too. The weather is not the issue, the City Council's inability to provide an adequate response to it, is.

  5. manclad Says:

    Dear Mr Leese. Please could you give a straight answer to a straight question; How much did the GMITA bash cost ?

  6. Alan Salter Says:

    Surprised that I'm the first to comment on this smugness. OK, Richard, leave us all to battle through the snow. But I bet you support the government's ludicrous policy of charging higher road tax for 4x4s!

  7. pedestrian Says:


  8. Bob Cunliffe Says:

    It is New Year's Eve and I've just finished the work I'd promised to have completed and I'm about to go home. A few minutes ago I came across the City's internet entry for the Peterloo Massacre and I've just read the Leaders Blog. I thought I'd just tell a story told to me by my Grandad, if for no other reason than it is another Winter's Tale. My Grandad was born in 1887. When I was a young man he told me that his grandfather had been at the Peterloo Massacre. I remember my Grandad's indignation at the report of only 11 deaths. My Grandad was adamant that most families took their dead home and the 11 deaths which were reported were people who were there without their families, or whose families were too injured of fearful to claim their loved ones. It was a vivid story he told of cavalry charging, sabres drawn, through a packed crowd. I have no way of verifying my story, I am content to believe it and pass it on. My Grandad was an honest man and he certainly believed that there were many more than 11 deaths. He was also a communist until the day he died. I've never heard anyone define socialism better than he did, "Look after your own and look out for them as (that) can't help themselves". Onwards and upwards and let's hope it is a really good New Year for all of Manchester.

  9. PuppyLove Says:

    Can you explain why so many of the main roads have not been gritted?

  10. Ian Says:

    The easy reason is that the Council is in debt its skint. Just watch what services are cut back but nobody in the council will say they are skint.

  11. Fred Says:

    Like the Labour Government over spending in the good years has got this council into money troubles before even Mr Cameroun takes office.

  12. Disgruntled council tax payer Says:

    Mr Leese the second round of PREDICTED bad weather is upon us and no sign of the gritters. Just what are the council tax payers of North Manchester paying council tax for? If the gritters are indeed working twenty four hours a day it certainly isn't in North Manchester. I have however noticed that the roads in South Manchester seem to be fairing much better.

  13. Frosty the snow man Says:

    I have been to other countries that you mention whilst they have been experiencing bad weather and they cope far better than Manchester does. Perhaps you could go and check all the Manchester borders and you will see how bad we fair. You can see the Manchester/Oldham border on Broadway simply by the fact that the Road on the Oldham side is far less dangerous than the Manchester side. Bury is the same as is Salford. Shame on you Manchester City Council.

  14. Sandra Says:

    I live on a main road and there was no gritting carried out on it during the last snow and ice before Christmas, indeed the main A34 was reduced to 10mph because it was not gritted. I found it strange on one occasion when I finally spotted a gritter - it had its lights flashing but no grit was coming out of it - again on a major A-road!! Now the snow has hit again and so far no grit. I submitted a complaint 2 weeks ago and haven't had a response to that - what are we supposed to do? I am disabled and cannot leave my home yet I pay my taxes. Is the leader ever going to respond???

  15. Susan Womersley Says:

    I work for Manchester Adult Education Service. A lot of the tutors have to travel some distance to get to work. This week we have a review week which means we aren't cancelling classes due to the weather thank heavens. However we have just been told that we have to travel to our nearest Adult Learning Centre of which five are actually open to register and if we don't we will have to take leave or unpaid leave. This gritting business has its consequnces doesn't it? All morning there have been reports of road accidents and now we have been directed to travel tomorrow or pay for the day off ourselves. Doesn't seem fair really. I am OK I can walk 2 minutes to my nearest centre, but alot of my colleagues will be facing snow and ice tomorrow morning.

  16. Naffed of MCC Employee Says:

    Not sure where the leader thinks all his grit has gone but it certainly isn't on any roads in Gorton (Sorry Hyde Rd looks like it might have been done) I too work for MCC like the lady from Adult Education we too have been told we must turn up for work or take unpaid leave. The supposedly child friendly council is going to make all parents who have to take time off work because their childrens schools are shut to either take unpaid leave or use up whatever holidays we have saved for Feb 1/2 term up. My childrens school looks like being closed all week which means I will have to take 4 days off. I am not on my own I work in a department that is looking to get rid of us (sorry that should say restructure us). And no doubt the fact that several of us with young children havn't fobbed them off onto neighbours to be looked after and then walked 3 to 5 miles into work will count against us. Come on MCC give all you staff whose children are having to stay off school some help leaving it to your individual managers is no good lead from the front

  17. council commuter Says:

    Manchesters main roads were a complete mess yesterday. Main roads coming off the motorway and into Manchester haD an easy 4 inches of snow on them. Forget about gritting, that wont stop that much snow from collecting on the roads! At least have ploughs out to clear what they can! I didnt see any on my 2 hour trip to the city centre. These gritters / ploughs should be out before rush hour, not after it when everyone has given up and gone home or left their cars where they lie! At least hire more trucks if they can;t be bought??

  18. Val Says:

    where is the duty of care to the residents of Manchester. It is totally unacceptable the way the roads have not been cleared of snow. The residents of Manchester who cannot get into work because of the state of the roads should refuse to pay full council tax to compensate loss of earnings. Ricard leese you should hang your head in shame.

  19. Quentin Crispy Duck Says:

    Re: Post 16

    Your manager should be aware that you are covered by legislation regarding special leave where child care arrangements are concerned.

    There should be some relevant information on regarding this.

    Good luck.

  20. Susan Womersley Says:

    Thanks Quentin. We subsequently recieved another text about an hour later saying that we apply for specail leave if we have children at home or the conditions for travel are too severe.

  21. Mr Bleach Says:

    That's the problem really, managers are often given discretion to make decisions about not being able to come in before someone actually consults the rules and realises that there is no discretion and that there is a definitive policy. This confusion then prompts unhappiness with staff and breeds distrust of whether the management knows what they are doing. Given the severity of the situation you would think that employer's would help to calm people's anxieties about this sort of thing by giving clear advice. Telling people to only travel if absolutely necessary is useless if you don't tell the same people whether or not their coming in is absolutely necessary. Also why is the council not asking staff to volunteer for a temporary secondment to help clear streets of the snow? Wouldn't that be a creative way of reducing the problem? On the subject of gritting/ploughing: if you can't get down the streets without seeing a car skid or people falling over there just hasn't been enough gritting.

  22. neil Says:

    i think richard leese needs to climb down from his ivory tower and get with the real world if its true what he says the gritters have been out 24/7 someone isnt doing there job or they are using inferior salt because there are no signs that the north side of manchester as been gritted but travel too the south side which is totally clear ie kingsway maybe the north side had a different kind of snow im a disgusted poll tax payer and my bins have only been emptied once since the 17 dec 09 and yes im a council worker 22years service and ive learned in that time that the only difference between the mob and the council is that the council dont use violence.......

  23. tolpuddlemartyrs Says:

    Sir I would be obliged if you could have a word with your gritters and ask them if they could not pass my home in the early hours of the morning as I live on a main road and they wake me up.

  24. ste Says:

    Well where to start, if you can't get into work, why should you be paid, no other employer will pay you for nothing so why should the Council, so the schools have shut why not get the school to pay your wages, when I was a wee lad schools never shut for a bit of snow so why are they doing it now ? so we have a bit of snow ,just go out and enjoy it after all with Global Warming we may not get another chance



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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