Late-night gritting routes have been axed across Perthshire despite the local authority admitting it has enough vehicles to provide the service.
Perth and Kinross Council has cut two night-shift gritting lorries in Aberfeldy and Perth, leaving the vehicles sitting idle while roads were left untreated during the harsh winter conditions.
The local authority has also axed the night shift control room for the gritters, claiming it is no longer needed due to the reduction in service.
The council admitted only four of its fleet of six gritters is being used on the night-shift routes, despite a backlash from residents during recent whiteouts.
A spokesperson said: “Operationally, officers reduced the number of night shift gritting routes from six to four, a decision based on the experiences and requirements of previous winters.
“No reduction in the gritting fleet was made and all six gritters are available for use.
“Due to the reduction in the number of night shift gritting routes a night shift control room was no longer a requirement because the existing standby rotas were flexible enough to provide adequate cover.
“Gritting is being carried out in accordance with the policy agreed at the council’s environment and infrastructure committee in August 2020.”
Highland Perthshire SNP councillor, Mike Williamson, believes the cuts have badly affected rural communities in Highland Perthshire this month.
“With the recent heavy snow fall across Highland Perthshire, I am concerned about the recent cuts to night-time treatment of roads from the Aberfeldy depot.
“This is affecting many rural roads across Highland Perthshire, with the freezing temperatures leaving some residents cut-off as gritters concentrate on the priority roads.
“Everyone should anticipate a level of service that is appropriate to the winter conditions.
“Whether it is key workers who need to travel to care for people in their own homes, or farmers who rely upon deliveries of agricultural supplies at this time of year.”
The Courier can reveal the reduction in service as the region awoke to another whiteout on Wednesday morning.
Perth, Auchterarder and Dunkeld all experienced snowfall overnight while sections of Highland Perthshire have been a whiteout for more than a week.
The local authority is also bracing itself for the arrival of Storm Cristoph with amber flood alerts in place across Tayside and Scotland.
The Met Office has warned the storm could bring heavy rain, snow and strong winds.
A Met Office yellow warning for snow will be in place throughout all of Thursday. It covers Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross, and much of Fife.
Snowfall is expected even at the lowest levels, including along the coast, as the freezing air moves into Scotland from the north-east on Thursday.