JOHN GODDARD has a point about asking communities to buy in extra salt, but the idea from Colin Thomas, the county’s deputy chief fire officer, is worth exploring.

Mr Goddard is correct that we have paid Oxfordshire County Council through council tax to ensure there are proper grit supplies to keep the major roads clear and safe during the snowstorms that have blighted the last two winters.

That is the starting point and any attempt by the council to shirk that responsibility must be avoided.

But Mr Thomas’ plan is based far more on pragmatism than job-dodging.

There are times when these storms come in so quickly the authorities are physically unable to cope.

The A34 turned into a car park just before Christmas and while the Highways Agency must take a lot of blame, to believe it could have kept that road free and clear for motorists to pass completely unaffected is misplaced optimism.

To have a contingency plan in place where communities – and it would be outlying areas more than town and city centres – have a supply of grit to use if the county council cannot get to them is just sensible planning.

The details would need working through to ensure fairness but as a contingency plan there is a lot to recommend it.