MORE than 500 villagers have signed a petition demanding the Isle of Wight Council salt Niton’s main road to Newport, after a spate of accidents on ice before Christmas.
The council removed the Niton-to-Rookley road from its treatment network in 2009, when severe early winter weather led to a national salt shortage.
It has never been reinstated and the council recommends using longer routes, via Chale and Chillerton or Whitwell and Godshill, to get to Newport.
Residents claim the Rookley road, a school bus route, is prone to run-off from fields and in December police had to close it several times after early-morning accidents.
On one occasion, it is understood an ambulance was unable to reach the scene of a crash and the driver had to walk to the ambulance from his wrecked car.
With signatures collected at Norris Family Grocers passing the 550 mark, the petition has now been handed to Cllr David Pugh, leader of the Isle of Wight Council.
Retired journalist Jonathan Young, a parish councillor who organised the petition with Wayne Norris, said: "Around half the adult population of Niton signed the petition in just a few weeks over Christmas.
"The council has tried to tell us it’s still banned by the government from using salt on roads such as ours but it’s failed to provide the evidence of this, despite a Freedom of Information request.
"Our research shows other councils use government guidelines as a minimum, not a maximum, figure for salt stocks. It’s time the council put public safety before saving money, which seems to be the only reason for this policy."
Peter Hayward, the council’s strategic manager for highways and transport, said the authority did not have the resources to treat all the Island’s main roads or all the minor roads connecting to them.
"Though not on the gritted route, we continue to treat specific locations known to suffer from icy patches and routinely install 'salt socks’ so water running from the verges passes through the sock, picking up salt, which prevents it freezing.
"We will be reviewing the gritting routes at the end of the season."