HARROW Council has been forced into a U-turn over its planned cut in gritting funds in next year's budget.

Council chiefs had planned to slash the Winter Maintenance Budget, which pays for salt reserves, from £156,000 to £106,000 in next year's budget.

However, as grit stocks dwindle during the current freezing conditions, which have seen roads and pavements across Harrow become treacherous for motorists and pedestrians, the cut in the draft budget has been hastily revised.

When the cut was revealed, at the end of last week, Labour politicians slammed the Tory administration for “neglecting public safety” by reducing funds for salt.

Councillor Phil O'Dell, deputy leader of the Labour group, said: “This is a very short sighted cut by Harrow Council.

“The council is already facing public outcry following the revelation that it will soon run of salt because of late ordering of grit. Clearly the council is neglecting public safety.”

Stocks of grit are currently at 427 tonnes, but the council may soon be ordered by the government to hand over some of its reserves to neighbouring London boroughs who are on the verge of running out.

Councillor Susan Hall, who has control of the gritting budget, said she had made sure the budget cut had been scrapped given the current weather conditions, but denied the low supplies Harrow has at the moment are the fault of the council.

She said: “As a council, we had completely covered ourselves for this, and if our delivery had arrived we would have been fine.

“But because other London boroughs didn't do the same planning as us, we may have to step in and help them out.”

The council ordered 1,000 tonnes of grit in December, but it has still not arrived as Harrow is not a high national priority to receive a delivery.

Cllr Hall said: “I'm absolutely livid. We still don't know if we are going to get any and we may have to gave what we have got left to neighbouring boroughs.

“We have been conservative and really prudent with what we have used, but the situation has been taken out of our hands.”

She said the real problem is that the Labour government had not sufficiently planned to have enough grit supplies to cope with a spell of freezing weather.

She said: “Whenever there is a high-risk strategy problem in this country, Gordon Brown and his government simply do not step up to the mark and we are let down every time.

“The government has not made sure there were enough salt stocks should this sort of thing happen.”