Norfolk’s gritting teams ready for action

Inside the salt dome at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt

Inside the salt dome at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

The head of Norfolk County Council’s gritting teams said he is confident they are ready for whatever the weather brings in the coming weeks.

Salt stocks in the county are currently at 96pc – about 16,500 tonnes – which is enough for more than 50 full gritting runs, so would last 26 days at two actions a day, or in severe weather, 13 days at four a day.

The authority’s long-term supply contract will require salt dome levels to be replenished before they fall below an agreed minimum.

In heavy snow conditions, the “priority one and two” network of just over 2,000 miles of road will be treated first, with a normal gritting action generally taking less than three hours, but may take longer in heavy snow.

Council gritters will then be sent onto the rest of the network if resources allow, while the teams can also mobilise farmers to snowplough minor roads. This happened once last winter.

Nick Tupper, highways maintenance manager for Norfolk County Council, said: “We are certainly fully prepared. We have been out gritting 42 times this winter already, so all the gritting and re-stocking arrangements are tried and tested. I am confident we will be able to deal with what’s coming along... whatever is coming.”

In addition to the gritting trucks, there are more than 1,300 grit bins, mostly provided through town and parish councils, but filled by the county council, to be used on the public highway only, and not to be taken for private driveways and paths.

A number of towns have organised their own snow response teams, including Swaffham, Fakenham, Aylsham, Diss, Holt, Wells and Methwold, to clear paths and treat areas that the county gritters cannot reach.

The council also encouraged “sensible public-spirited action” to clear snow.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “In heavy snow, our gritters can be hard-put just to keep the main road network passable. If we find ourselves in the same position in the coming cold spell, I would urge people to do as much as they can to help in their local communities.

“A number of towns have organised their own snow volunteers, which is excellent, but there is nothing to stop other members of the community taking sensible steps to clear snow and ice outside their homes or businesses. It’s a myth that this makes the person automatically liable if someone slips and falls - clearing snow and spreading salt or grit is a community-spirited action that we should all applaud and encourage.”

Norfolk County Council will post updates about winter services at and will post messages via Twitter and Facebook when gritters are heading out.

Winter maintenance facts:

-The priority gritting routes cover 34pc of the 5,965-mile county road network.

-Off-highway gritting is carried out at locally important sites such as hospitals, Norwich Airport and park and ride sites.

-On average, about 250 tonnes of treated salt is used per action.

-Last winter (2011/12) the average cost per treatment, including storage and fixed costs, was £49,471.

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