A failure to draw up a new plan to keep the borough’s roads clear and ice-free during winter has been branded “totally unacceptable” by the Labour party.

A council report says its highways department – outsourced to Capita under the Regional Enterprise (Re) contract – has made no progress in drafting a new winter service plan.

The plan, which is supposed to be reviewed annually, is designed to coordinate gritting operations so roads and footpaths are kept clear of snow and ice.

A council spokesperson said an “effective winter weather plan” is in place.

But when asked by the Barnet Times whether it is a new plan or one from a previous year, the council did not answer.

Labour’s environment spokesperson Cllr Alan Schneiderman (Woodhouse) said: “Winter is coming and its totally unacceptable that a new plan to deal with the operation of the winter gritting service is not in place.

“Residents depend on roads and pavements being gritted in order to get around safely. Tory councillors are far too complacent and must ensure that an effective plan is quickly put in place to overcome problems from last year.”

The council report, which was discussed at the environment committee on November 27, says “concerns have been raised with the new Re director” over the lack of a new winter service plan.

It points out that the relocation of a depot from Barnet to Harrow could lead to longer travel times for gritting wagons.

There are also “concerns about the availability of drivers to assist the highways direct labour organisation in delivering the winter gritting service”.

Chairman of the environment committee Cllr Dean Cohen (Conservative, Golders Green) said: “Our teams are diligently gritting every night that requires it, ensuring our streets and roads are safe for drivers and pedestrians alike.

“We have had our gritting plan in place for the past two months, and we grit based on Met Office forecasts of road temperatures.

“We have two separate stores from which we can grit, to ensure that there is no delay to our service or the safety of our residents.”

Cllr Cohen accused Cllr Schneiderman of making “needlessly misleading statements” and said he should respect the hard work of council employees.

But Cllr Schneiderman pointed out that the council’s own report says a new plan has not been drawn up, adding: “There were problems last year, which is why I was seeking reassurance for when winter comes this year.”

A council spokesperson said: “We have been operating the gritting service from the Harrow depot for the last two years, in line with an effective winter weather plan.

“The council and Re have already done more than ten gritting runs this winter, which we will continue to do as a precautionary measure during cold snaps.

“We have plans in place to grit areas including pavements, shopping centres and town centres if it snows, as agreed with Re.”

The committee report can be viewed here: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s56523/Quarter%202%20Performance%20Q2%20201920.pdf