Birmingham City Council has been accused of being ill-prepared for the coldest winter for decades after it cut by nearly half a request for salt needed to keep Birmingham’s roads clear of ice and snow.
Highways officials placed an initial order of 6,900 tonnes for this year, compared to 12,000 tonnes last year, it has emerged.
The decision to place a reduced order for salt was taken before the start of the winter, even though the city was forced to order emergency supplies last year after the 12,000-tonne stockpile ran low.
Details of the council’s transactions with the UK Salt Union were published following Freedom of Information Act inquiries by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
But a council spokeswoman said the claims were misleading, adding the city ordered salt in batches and would have more this year than last year. She added: “We have further orders already for the winter period.”
The details reflected unrest within the city’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition at the failure to keep all roads clear during heavy snowfall last Saturday.
Oscott Tory Coun Geoffrey Green slammed an official report setting out how well the city was coping.
Coun Green said: “The main roads had not been gritted in preparation for this widely predicted fall of snow, the grit bins in the outer areas had little or no grit available.”
Springfield Liberal Democrat Coun Tanveer Choudhry said: “The majority of the inner city was not gritted properly and hence it was almost impossible to get around anywhere.”
Deputy council leader Coun Paul Tilsley hit back, claiming the city remained “accessible for business”.
Coun Tilsey (Lib Dem Sheldon) added: “While traffic disruption was severe and widespread our recovery on Saturday and Sunday was perceived to have been a success.”