The size of the West Sussex road network gritted by the county council could be slashed by almost a third.
Trunk roads such as the A27 and A23 are the responsibility of Highways England, with the remaining part of the network falling under West Sussex County Council’s jurisdiction, which grits 41 per cent of its routes.
However as part of a new highways maintenance contract due to be awarded next year, this could be reduced to 28 per cent to bring West Sussex in line with neighbouring authorities.
Bob Lanzer, cabinet member for infrastructure and highways, said: “We believe that we can reduce the percentage from 41 to around 28, whilst maintaining the safety of the network and thereby contributing to the prosperity of the county through maintaining a safe network or we would not say it.”
Lib Dem Nigel Dennis, raised the issue at a WSCC meeting earlier this month.
He said: “As well as safety grounds it’s important to keep the local economy going during increasingly frequent extreme weather events.”
The gritting network includes A and B roads, important bus routes, and access roads for large industrial areas, large schools and colleges, airports, hospitals, fire stations, railway stations, and bus depots.
A council spokesman said: “Keeping residents safe remains our top priority. In severe weather, we currently treat 41 per cent of the roads for which we have responsibility.
“However, there are sound economic and environmental reasons for reducing the amount of salt we spread.
“As part of our annual, winter service planning process, we are reviewing exactly what level of treatment we will apply in the future. There is no, pre-determined percentage target and the total figure we end up with will be decided in the review.
“The review will include how we provide a service to smaller rural areas and will be balanced against any risks in not treating roads.”