I thought I had better type a line or two regarding Schofields and gritting in Huddersfield and more importantly the Colne Valley. I took the decision not to tender for the next gritting contract in June this year. The reasons are many, too many to mention, however one of the big stumbling blocks is how to comply with the working time directive and drivers hours and provide 24/7 cover without a shift pattern similar to the emergency services. I do not believe that it can be done.
The tender document has always been a one sided affair,it is after all drawn up by the client.Even if you win the work the tender states several times that there is no guarantee of work (funding, weather patterns etc ). I however have to give many guarantees as a contractor with threats of financial penalties for failure to comply.
There is much more to the story ,far to much for me to type here. The decision was a commercial decision coupled with a deep reluctance to be browbeaten by beaurocracy whilst providing an essential service. Much of this beaurocracy is a result of the claims culture, a need for public bodies to protect theirselves against claims.
I think that the areas we have served have had a good service over the years, we did our best subject to the rules that governed us at the time. Most of us had a lot of fun playing in the snow, on a bit of a mission to keep our patch clear, a matter of pride. It was strange to stand there watch the chaos on our home roads on tuesday. Kirklees have taken the decision to grit Colne Valley roads from the depot in Honley rather than Slaithwaite. This is ok for a frost grit but in snow the empty gritter has to drive over snow covered roads to Honley to reload. By the time he gets back nearly 2 hours later all of his work is undone, multiple accidents and gridlock ensue. To be fair since the routes were lengthened and number of gritters reduced we struggled in snow conditions ourselves. Each vehicle had around 20 miles of road to service, difficult roads at that. This led to us getting flak from the public, a public with little conception of what it takes to keep 20 mile of two way road (40 mile)open and contend with idiots who shouldn’t be allowed in a car at the best of times.
I hope this explains to the many who are asking, what the situation really is.