Highways bosses scotch concerns over lack of gritters this winter

The gritter makes it's way through Attleborough town centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A gritter makes its way through Attleborough. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Highways bosses in Norfolk have scotched concerns snow and ice could go uncleared on roads this winter due to a shortage of gritter drivers.

Some councils across the country have warned how difficulties retaining and recruiting bin lorry drivers could also affect the number of gritters who spread salt on roads.

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, warned the public sector was struggling to compete with driver salaries being offered by private firms.

But bosses at Norfolk County Council, which is responsible for gritting roads in the county (excluding the A47 and A11), said they are confident Norfolk will have enough drivers to treat the highways.

Grahame Bygrave, director of highways and waste, said: “We work closely with our contractors Norse to keep Norfolk moving each winter and are well prepared ahead of the coming winter season with all of Norfolk’s salt domes fully stocked.

"We are not anticipating a shortage of gritter drivers in Norfolk as Norse have been successful in retaining the vast majority of their experienced in-house gritting crews who have done such an excellent job in previous years.”

County Hall has 15,000 tonnes of salt in stock, which is continually monitored and replenished over the winter.

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That would allow the council's gritters to go on between 47 to 93 full gritting runs, depending on temperatures and how much salt needs to be put down.

A Norfolk County Highways gritter lorry is loaded up in the salt dome at the depot at Ketteringham.

A Norfolk County Highways gritter lorry is loaded up in the salt dome at the depot at Ketteringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The council's three hour gritting runs cover a total of approximately 2,200 miles on A, B and some C class roads.

Some footpaths in the pedestrian areas of Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth are also treated.

On the national issue, RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: "Not being able to grit roads when temperatures drop will be a real safety hazard and could lead to more crashes and, ultimately, more lives being ruined and lost.

"We've already seen reductions in the number of miles of roads being treated with salt over previous winters, so this would be a blow to drivers who rely on their vehicles.

"Councils must get a grip of this problem, so drivers don't lose grip on the roads this winter."

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