Grit bin thieves create havoc on roads
FAMILIES were left to battle icy roads and pavements after a spate of grit thefts.
Residents in Meir have reported several incidents of people stealing from emergency grit bins throughout the recent severe weather.
As heavy snow fell on Friday, some communities took to locking the roadside bins to prevent further thefts.
Brian Jones, chairman of Wood Farm Residents' Association, in Meir, has been in touch with the city council about the rock salt raids.
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The 70-year-old, of Harvey Road, said: "The thieves turn up and fill black bin bags with the grit. They then jump in the back of their cars and drive off. Presumably, they want the grit to put on their driveways.
"But it's not fair on residents who need the grit for roads outside their homes."
Mr Jones, who is also chairman of the City Forum, received 16 calls from neighbours reporting sightings of the thieves.
Bins in Forrister Street and Auden Place, at Meir Hay, are among the six to be targeted in the area.
He is due to meet the council's highways department today to discuss the issue.
Mr Jones said: "There is a care home in Forrister Street, but these people obviously don't care about leaving vulnerable people stuck with dangerous, snowy roads.
"What if an emergency vehicle needed to get up the road? The snow is particularly bad in this area – Harvey Road was still covered, even when everywhere else was melted."
Grit bins in Weston Road, Meir, remained locked until Friday morning to prevent improper use of the grit.
Sarah Walker, aged 51, who lives along the road said: "It's sad that it's got the point where grit bins have to be locked. On Thursday evening, I was trying to walk my dog on the road and I noticed the bin was locked – that was at about 6.30pm. By 9pm, the road was almost impassable.
"You've really got to praise the gritters who drive out and clear the roads."
Another Weston Road resident, who did not want to be named, added: "Some people just take the grit and put it on their drives. It's not fair on the rest of us."
Around 600 tonnes of grit was put down on streets across Stoke-on-Trent between Thursday and Saturday last week.
Malcolm Dawson, the council's strategic manager for roads and engineering said: "Grit bins are provided to treat roads and pavements. We regularly fill all 450 across the city, but we have had problems with grit theft. People have been driving up to the bins and filling bags."