A FUNDING reserve could be created to help meet costs in the event of another extreme winter in Blaenau Gwent.

The county borough council spent £368,000 more than its winter maintenance budget last year as heavy snow caused havoc across the area.

The extra costs meant the council's environment budget spiralled, with the authority spending £690,000 more than originally forecast.

A council report says: "The adverse variance of £690,000 has increased by £100,000 when compared to the December 2017 forecast and this is mainly due to the significant costs incurred in dealing with the service impact from the adverse weather conditions in the final quarter, which resulted in an adverse variance on winter maintenance of £368,000."

At a meeting of the executive committee on Wednesday, leader of the council, Cllr Nigel Daniels, suggested setting up a reserve fund to meet extra costs in the future.

He said: "Could officers give some thought to creating a winter maintenance reserve so that if it's needed, it's there?" he said.

"Without this excessive spend Blaenau Gwent would not have got moving for a couple of months, and it is testament to the work of our services for getting us moving again.

"I do not think the mainstream budget should be penalised for that."

The five Gwent councils received almost £400,000 from the Welsh Government as a contribution towards assisting with costs incurred by the snow.

From the allocation, Caerphilly received the highest share - £123,048, followed by Newport - £86,438, Monmouthshire - £76,746, Torfaen - £49,674 and Blaenau Gwent - £46,088.

However, the additional cost of the snow to the councils’ winter service teams combined was more than £2million – taking in the wintry weather in December and March.

The largest outlay was the £428,000 spent by Caerphilly County Borough Council on clearing the roads and buying grit, bringing winter maintenance spending up to £507,000.

Meanwhile Newport spent £215,000 on salt, spreading 1,100 tons in a 48-hour period, and an extra £120,412 on clearing roads and supporting council services.