Norfolk County Council is defended, as grit bins across Norfolk are restocked ahead of predicted further snow

Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich.  Photo: Bill Smith Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, January 18, 2013
6:30 AM

Grit bins have been restocked around Norfolk in preparation for the further snow predicted to fall today.

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Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich.  Photo: Bill SmithStefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Norfolk County Council has been criticised by some for not ensuring roads and footpaths remained clear in the aftermath of this week’s heavy snowfall.

Graham Plant, the councillor in charge of Norfolk’s response to the winter weather, revealed he had calls to his home saying he should resign and an internal review of how the authority handled the situation is also planned.

Richard Hayes, president of the Institute of Highways Engineers (IHE) told the EDP: “It is difficult for local authorities because if they spend a fortune and had enough gritters to handle the situation then people will be saying, why have they spent that sort of money when this sort of weather happens once in 20 years?

“They can’t win really. As always, it is a fine balance to get right.”

Stefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Cringleford.  Photo: Bill SmithStefan Holmes and Benny Tye keeping the grit bins filled in Cringleford. Photo: Bill Smith

IHE is planning to launch a professional certificate and training course for engineers responsible for winter operations in a new scheme to be launched later this year.

Mr Hayes continued: “We work with individuals making these decisions to ensure their competency. Often at councils nowadays the experienced guys are no longer there, so we are trying to make sure the expertise is maintained.

“There was a 2010-11 review of these issues that found better use of modern technology is needed but there is no specific industry body for winter maintainance workers, so that is the need we are trying to meet.”

With more snow expected this afternoon the county council yesterday targeted all remaining highway resources to refilling grit bins, in addition to continued road gritting efforts.

Mr Plant, the county council’s cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “We have launched an all-out effort to restock bins ahead of the forecast snow.

“Many parish and town councils have paid for grit bins, and these were filled at the start of the winter by the county council. These have been very well used over recent days, so we are doing everything we can to refill them.

“It is important that grit from these bins is only used on the highway. It must not be taken for use on private paths and driveways.”

Council bosses are urging people to make use of grit bins to rid pavements outside their homes of snow and ice as conditions continued to prove troublesome for pedestrians yesterday, w

Norwich City Council said it aimed to clear footways in the commercial area of the city centre and foot bridges crossing ring roads.

The authority has asked its contractors to treat approaches to crossing points.

At Norfolk County Council, spokesman Steve Sanders said: “We do grit pavements where we can and we have gritted in some places including the key shopping areas in King’s Lynn and Norwich. They are on our priority routes.

“We are encouraging people to grit pavements where they can.

“The other thing we do is we have worked with town councils to provide training and help for volunteer groups for gritting. Swaffham is a good example.”

8 comments

  • David, you have the most appropriate surname for reporting this article!

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    AssaRummunInnit?

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • There are always choices and priorities.There has been a significant demand for grit bins in the city and it will interesting to evaluate their effectiveness.The highway includes lanes for pedestrians called pavements.Grit bins, strategically placed,provide the means by which communities can protect themselves encouraging use for vulnerable people ,those with mobility problems.The county council are quite happy to spend £3.5million on a new road.One option would be to reallocate some or all of that budget to make the existing network safer.The next predictable set of occurrences will undoubtedly be potholes,following the harsh,cold weather.Cllr Plant may have to field a lot more calls yet.There is no need for anyone to be abusive.

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • There are always choices and priorities.There has been a significant demand for grit bins in the city and it will interesting to evaluate their effectiveness.The highway includes lanes for pedestrians called pavements.Grit bins, strategically placed,provide the means by which communities can protect themselves encouraging use for vulnerable people ,those with mobility problems.The county council are quite happy to spend £3.5million on a new road.One option would be to reallocate some or all of that budget to make the existing network safer.The next predictable set of occurrences will undoubtedly be potholes,following the harsh,cold weather.Cllr Plant may have to field a lot more calls yet.There is no need for anyone to be abusive.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • I would like to grit the local footpath, but, having used the saltsand mixture in the grit bin after last weeks heavy snow and having reported the grit bin as requiring replenishing, I am still waiting. I do hope that those residents who have difficulty in getting about don't think I haven't tried - I have all the correspondence in support of my attempts!

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    AssaRummunInnit?

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • People have unrealstic expectations. I've lived in Norfolk for over 20 years and we've had this sort of ice and snow maybe four or five times in total. I people want a huge fleet of gritting vehicles, snow ploughs etc. to cope with extremes then they will have to pay for the vehicles and staff to drive them through increased council tax. AFAICS the roads have mostly been useable, certainly the more main ones. Perhaps the money would be better invested training idiots to drive properly in ice and snow. It is about steadiness, minimising rapid movements and braking, thoughtfulness and anticipation NOT about crawling along the middle of the lane at 5mph in terror or alternatively hurtling along at 60mph because you think your 4x4 won't skid. Having a review is a sensible idea, because things can always be done better with the benefit of hindsight. However, it is unreasonable to blame the highways people for not being psychic.

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    Paul

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Yes, it is totally unrealistic to expect the level of investment that would be required to keep the roads properly clear when all the money has been flashed away on RAF Coltishall etc. If only Stalham could have paid up sooner. A quarter of a million for an acre and a half - are they hoping to sink a gold mine?

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Yes, it is totally unrealistic to expect the level of investment that would be required to keep the roads properly clear when all the money has been flashed away on RAF Coltishall etc. If only Stalham could have paid up sooner. A quarter of a million for an acre and a half - are they hoping to sink a gold mine?

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • it costs about £ 24.000 for 980tns. of road grade grit+salt. and it all; ends up in our watercourses. In rural areas working from home would reduce the traffic, so would having more jobs closer to home. Salt also is highly corrosive to the precious vehicle. In Norway it is law to use spiked tyres from a certain date onwards and roads get resurfaced during the summer month, every year, here its too expensive, bad for the roads, etc. Can't be fazed with any more road hugger sob story's, who is thinking about the pedestrians, the only sensible people around in this weather? Nobody. Businesses and private owners who do not clear the snow off their property and grit afterwards are liable to prosecution in Germany, should anybody get injured falling due to excessive snow or no gritting, that'll sort it.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, January 18, 2013

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