ANGRY residents can’t believe Basildon Council has removed grit bins from the streets where they live during the worst cold spell in years.

Basildon Council has taken away 27 bins, used to store grit residents could have used to clear snow and ice from back streets and pavements.

They are particularly annoyed about the loss of a grit bin from an unnamed service road where dozens of residents from Great Gregorie, The Knares, Ingaway, and Cross Green park their cars.

Other bins were taken from Witchards and Sandon Road, also in Basildon.

John Saunders, 68, of Great Gregorie, said: “It’s disgusting. We pay a lot of council tax and should at least be given grit to clear the roads ourselves.

“We used to be able to call the council and it would refill the bins as many times as we needed. Now we’re getting nothing, which is very dangerous.”

Dennis Purnell, 79, slipped over in the snow near his home in Ingaway and had to be taken to hospital.

He said: “It wouldn’t have happened if the council hadn’t taken our grit bin away, because the residents always used to use the salt to keep the streets clear of snow and ice.”

Lynda Gordon, leader of the opposition Labour group on the Tory-controlled council, said: “The council should replace all the bins it has taken away.

“Pensioners are trapped indoors by the snow because no one can grit the pavements and people can’t drive to the main roads, which are the only ones that have been gritted. The back streets are covered in ice.”

Brian Boyce, the council’s technical services manager, said the bins had been taken away to save money, as it cost the council £40 each time a bin had to be refilled.

Mr Boyce insisted the grit bins taken were either damaged or were not used.

He added: “Many of the bins we removed have not been refilled for several years. They were still full of solidified rock salt.

“These factors were taken into account when we looked to reduce the numbers for budget savings.”

A total of 82 bins now remain across the district.

Southend Council said the number of grit bins in the borough had not changed over the past five years.

Essex County Council is responsible for gritting main roads across south Essex, but local councils are supposed to supply and maintain grit bins on smaller roads.