Rosie Cooper MP has visited Hotter Shoes in Skelmersdale to see first hand the impact the lack of gritting has had on local businesses.
Hotter Shoes was forced to pay to have their car park cleared, making it safe for employees to come to work and customers to shop.
John Andersen, Group Operations Director for Hotter Shoes said: “The roads around West Pimbo were left ungritted after the freezing conditions last week creating an extremely dangerous situation for the 3,000 or more people who work on this estate.
“The snow compacted into a thick, deadly sheet of ice, which resulted in hazardous conditions for at least 2 weeks. There was no gritting during that time, despite repeated calls to the County Council by ourselves and other businesses on the estate. We even called the West Lancs Police as a last resort to see if they could help before something serious happened.
“We have a high volume of HGV traffic using the roads around West Pimbo and I know of at least four incidents of jack knifed lorries who at times cut off the access to for people and businesses around the estate. Many people have to walk to work and because we do not have pavements for access to all areas, they are forced to walk on the roads – adding to the danger.
“We have over 300 people working at Hotter, with the majority of them living in Skelmersdale. We closed the business for their safety on the first day of snow, but after that, to their immense credit, they battled the weather conditions.
“The conditions may have been exceptional but we face the same problem every year with the roads being left untreated when we have snow and ice. No one working on West Pimbo should have to put themselves in danger to earn a living – we need the Council to make a commitment to keep these roads clear and safe in the future for us all.”
Rosie Cooper MP said: “For the Lancashire County Council to completely ignore an estate that has around 3,000 people working shows that the Council is completely out of touch with the local people. How can the County Council justify not gritting this area at all? All of these companies pay business rates and expect a service which keeps their shops operating and their employees safe.
“Many stores are struggling in this economic climate and to have the problems of overcoming dreadful weather conditions is bad enough without the County Council compacting the problems with its four day silence.
“While I commend the local business community in taking the initiative to clear the ice and snow themselves, it should not have come to that. I hope that the County Council will reimburse companies who incurred costs trying to keep the Highway clear and safe for their employees and customers.
“Today we’ve received word that the Cllr Keith Young is ruling out major changes to the gritting policy. People and businesses will be dismayed at this complacent and outrageous attitude.
“Lancashire County Council should begin to really learn lessons from this mess. They should show that they care about the safety of West Lancashire’s residents and businesses by beginning a real assessment of what went wrong and have a proper contingency plan should the weather get this bad again.”