Norfolk stockpiles grit in readiness for harsh winter

Norfolk's long-range forecast might say 'here we snow again'.

But highways engineers believe they have got enough grit stockpiled to keep the county's roads clear.

Weathermen are warning we are in for a repeat of last year's freeze, when the coldest winter for 30 years brought blizzards, power cuts, school closures and blocked roads.

Forecasters at Positive Weather Solutions – who claim to have predicted last year's Siberian snap – say we are heading for heavy snowfalls and possibly even a white Christmas.

Norfolk escaped the worst of it last time around. But thousands of rural homes were left without power, some for two days or more, in a series of equipment failures due to the cold.

Many councils across the country came close to running out of grit supplies.

This year three-quarters of them have increased the amount they stockpile over the summer – despite the looming spending cuts.

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Last winter, Norfolk County Council spent nearly �5m treating A and B roads with 28,000 tonnes of grit, in a bid to ensure that major routes and at least one access road remained open into each community. This winter, it has no plans to cut back on the mileage gritted.

Spokesman Steven Reilly told the EDP: 'Our long-term PFI contact with Salt Union ensures that the county council receives replenished salt stocks throughout the winter.

'There are seven salt domes around Norfolk, that stock a total of 12,000 tonnes, with a further 6,000 tonnes of strategic stock of salt ready for winter use.'

Elsewhere, drivers could be in for a slippier ride. One in five authorities have not yet received the extra supplies they have ordered, according to the Local Government Association.

'Treating the roads during the past two winters has caused problems for councils because of salt suppliers being overwhelmed by demand,' said Peter Box, chair of the LGA's economy and transport board.

'As we go into another winter, a proportion of councils do not have as much salt in their storage facilities as they would like to have because the suppliers haven't provided all the stock they've asked for.'