Wakefield Council defends gritter workers after MP Imran Ahmad Khan blames authority for 'shockingly dangerous' roads

Wakefield Council has leapt to the defence of its gritting workers, after the local Conservative MP blamed the authority for the state of city's roads.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 11:55 am

Imran Ahmad Khan tweeted on Thursday evening that motorists "deserved better" from the council, as he claimed local highways were in a "shockingly dangerous" state.

But the council's Cabinet member for transport offered a swift rebuke to Mr Khan, branding his attack "unbelievable".

Snow fell across West Yorkshire for most of Thursday and temperatures remained below freezing early on Friday, making conditions difficult for drivers and pedestrians.

At 7.40pm on Thursday, Mr Khan tweeted: "Today, my office and I have been inundated with many constituents concerned by the shockingly dangerous state of Wakefield’s roads.

"Today’s situation is not acceptable, and the reports of “chaos” on Wakefield’s streets are widespread."

He added: "The system either doesn’t work, or has failed. I have been in touch with the council today and will demand answers for you. With your support, we can make sure this doesn’t happen again. We deserve better from WMDC."

Reaction to the criticism from constituents was divided.

Mr Khan launched an attack on the council's gritting service on Thursday night. Additional pictures courtesy of Colin Williams.

One resident described the tweets as a "cheap attack on the council in the circumstances", while another said the local authority had done "an unbelievable job in the circumstances".

One social media user suggested that the chaos was "caused in part by drivers who don't know how to react in snow conditions".

Another however, thanked Mr Khan for raising the issue and said: "Ossett was basically cut off - zero attempts to grit."

But Labour's Matthew Morley, who is Wakefield Council Cabinet member for highways, condemned Mr Khan's remarks.

Temperatures are expected to hover around freezing for most of Friday. Picture courtesy of Scott Merrylees.

He tweeted: "Absolutely unbelievable that the whole of West Yorkshire has seen disruption with the snow all day yet the MP for Wakefield chooses to attack the council workforce when they’ve been out since 4.30am this morning working hard to keep the district moving."

Mr Khan and the council previously came to blows last summer, when the MP described the local authority as "pig-headed" and "brusque", when senior figures did not attend a business meeting, citing other commitments.

On that occasion, the council leader Denise Jeffery described those remarks as "incredibly disappointing" and said Mr Khan had prioritised "political posturing".

Temperatures in Wakefield are expected to hover around freezing for much of the rest of the day, though they are forecast to rise over the weekend to around six degrees, accompanied by some rain on Saturday.

Local Democracy Reporting Service