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Gritting in the cold weather

Posted: 13/01/2010

[Please note: The information below has been posted 'as is' at the request of HDC]


Message from the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Highways & Access Cambridgeshire County Council

Dear Member,

I wanted to update you on both the Cambridgeshire and national gritting situation. As you know Cambridgeshire started the gritting season with full salt barns, some 50 per cent more, than we had last year a total of some 12,000 tonnes . Since 16th December we have carried out 34 runs, including on Christmas Day, plus undertaking a couple of secondary runs and numerous bits of spot salting on footways and cycleways. We have around 5 days supply left on the basis that we optimise our spread rates and do not do any secondary work. We do have some material that is not suitable for the gritters which we are using in a targeted way to fill grit bins and to treat some of the busier footways.

During this extremely cold spell we have worked with city, district and parish councils to treat as much as we can. Our teams have been working very hard, around the clock in very challenging conditions.

Nationally many areas have been harder hit than us, for example in the north and Scotland, this has meant that deliveries of stocks normally destined for us have had to be redirected to those most in need.

In light of this the National Salt Cell has been set up. This happened last year and is a partnership between the Department for Transport, Local Government Association and salt suppliers to prioritise which authorities receive deliveries and when. Each council provides regular information on their salt stocks to help the decisions be made.

Neighbouring counties such as Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk already announced this week, before the formation of the Salt Cell, that they were reducing the routes they are treating due to shortages of stock.

Cambridgeshire will not make a decision until Monday on any changes to our precautionary gritting regime. Deliveries are expected but this could change if the Salt Cell sends it elsewhere.
In light of the hard and constant work being carried out by our gritting teams and partners I would ask that you limit contact with Highway staff to what is essential to allow them to concentrate on the job in hand. I would encourage you to report areas of concern that need treating through the normal public highway channels so they can be logged and dealt with accordingly.

As you know, like last year, we are seeing and expect more potholes to form due to the extreme cold conditions. We are asking people to let us know of any problems in their area - they can notify us via our website or via the contact centre on 0345 045 5212 (contact centre is open 8.00 am-8.00 pm, Monday to Saturday). We will repair them as soon as resources and weather conditions allow. Please feel free to circulate that information within your divisions.
Further questions will be better answered at a more suitable time or as part of the winter maintenance review.

Below is a copy of a letter the Chief Executive received today from the LGA which explains the national situation and the joint government/local government approach to it.

As the situation unfolds I will send you further bulletins.

Message from the Chief Executive, Local Government Association to the County Council

"I thought you would want to know what measures the LGA is putting in place to help councils cope with one of the worst winters in recent memory.

We know that, despite forecasts of a mild winter, many Councils stockpiled more salt this year but after the longest cold snap in 30 years, systems are stretched. We have kept a watchful eye on the weather situation for the last couple of weeks and have been in close contact with the Department for Transport (DfT). As councils began to report difficulties in obtaining their contracted deliveries from salt suppliers, we also raised this issue to the attention of DfT officials.

With prolonged bad weather expected across the UK, strains on the national salt supply are becoming evident. We have now put a response team in place to help councils deal with the impact of the snow and freezing temperatures, which are resulting in extraordinary pressures on the UK salt supply. This team represents the LGA on the national "Salt Cell" that has been convened by the DfT to provide advice to salt suppliers on the prioritisation of their deliveries.

Starting tomorrow you will be asked to provide your Regional Resilience Team with information on your salt stocks twice a week. As this information is used in the process of identifying areas of greatest need, we urge you to respond as it will ensure that your needs are prioritised appropriately. We also know that it in order for you to manage your stocks, you need to know in advance when you will be receiving deliveries. That is one of primary messages we pressed in the first Salt Cell meeting today. Please let us know if you having difficulties finding out when you can next expect a delivery.

We are also providing support and information widely to our membership and to councillors so that everyone has up to date information. The LGA website contains a winter weather briefing , which will be refined and amended on a regular basis.

Our key message is that councils have been working night and day, often in dangerous conditions, to keep roads clear. Councils know how important it is to keep people moving and will continue to manage their stocks to ensure that emergency services and public transport can keep running and essential supplies of food and fuel can get through.

If you have any queries please contact [email protected] .

Please continue to keep us informed of emerging issues."



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