1.3m tonnes of salt in stock as hundreds of gritters prepare to hit the roads

LGA media release 27 October 2012

Councils have stockpiled more than one million tonnes of road salt for this winter, according to the latest figures from highways bosses.

As the nation braces itself for an icy blast this weekend, hundreds of gritters are on standby to treat thousands of miles of roads.

An LGA survey of councils across England and Wales found there is currently about 1.3 million tonnes of salt in council depots – enough to fill more than 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This is about twice as much as was used during last winter.

Councils have invested in new fleets of GPS-tracked gritting trucks, mini-gritters and specialist vehicles for narrow and hilly streets. Thousands of grit bins have been placed in estates and side streets, residents have been given their own bags of salt along with salt spreaders in some neighbourhoods, and arrangements have been made with parish councils, farmers and community groups to grit hard-to-reach areas.

Council websites will be updated with the latest information on weather, gritting routes, school closures and bin collections, ‘gritter Twitter' feeds and Facebook pages have been set up, and leaflets have been sent out advising residents on winter services, how to drive safely in snow and dispelling the health and safety myths about clearing pavements.

Key findings from the survey, carried out this month, include:

  • Salt – Councils currently have an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of salt in stock – the same amount as this time last year and nearly twice the estimated 700,000 tonnes used last winter. 20 per cent of councils have more salt than last year, and 69 per cent the same. 97 per cent have all the supplies they ordered.
  • Equipment – Over the past year, 39 per cent had bought new gritters, 27 per cent new mini-gritters and 17 per cent other equipment, such as ploughs, footway gritters, tractors, snow-blowers and quad bikes.
  • Working with communities – 59 per cent of councils will be supplying salt and equipment to parish councils, community groups or snow wardens, and 35 per cent are working with local farmers and 4x4 owners to help in the effort. 76 per cent of councils will be placing community grit bins for residents to use on side streets.
  • Communication – 78 per cent of councils will be providing live updates to residents on weather, gritting activity and services. 98 per cent of these will have a dedicated resource on their website, 76 per cent will be using a Twitter feed and 33 per cent a Facebook page.

Councillor Peter Box, Chair of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said:

"Whatever this winter throws at us, motorists and residents can count on council highways teams being well prepared to keep roads safe and traffic moving. They've got brand new gritters which use salt more effectively, the latest technology in snow ploughs and special quad-bikes and 4x4s to grit narrow or hilly roads.

"Councils will be receiving up-to-the-minute reports from weather experts and their gritting teams are on standby around the clock. Highways, street-cleaning and park staff could also be drafted in to help clear snow and ice around places like shops, schools and sheltered accommodation.

"Keeping the country moving is a community effort. Councils will be treating as many roads as they can and have also installed and filled thousands of extra grit bins for people living in side streets, villages and housing estates. They've given equipment to parish councils, community groups and snow wardens who have volunteered to grit hard-to-reach areas, and farmers will be helping out on country lanes.

"Council websites will be constantly updated with information on weather, gritting routes, road conditions, school closures and bin collections, and many councils also have gritter Twitter feeds and Facebook pages detailing the latest developments. Leaflets have been sent to homes advising people about council services, driving in the snow, where grit bins are and how to clear their pavements."

ends

Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: LGA Media Office, Telephone: 020 7664 3333

Notes to editors

The Local Government Association's Research and Information team conducted an online survey of all highways authorities in England and Wales who carry out winter weather gritting activities (all councils except districts). Fieldwork took place between and 24 September and 15 October 2012 and a response rate of 62 per cent (108 respondents).

Estimated numbers for England and Wales are grossed figures. The grossed figure is calculated through taking a mean average for respondents by authority type (excluding outliers) as an indication of the response for non respondents. This figure is then added to the overall total for responding councils.

The full report will be published in November.

Some information in the press release is taken from council case studies outside of the report. 


6 November 2012

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