Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s fleet of gritters and crews are officially on standby 24 hours a day for the next five months to deal with winter weather.
They have already been out on the roads on test runs to ensure they are ready for when the weather takes a turn for the worse. And with temperatures forecast to drop by the end of the week, the nine gritters could be called into action sooner rather than later.
The council’s salt stores are fully stocked, and more is held on order at the mines to be drawn in as and when it is needed. Approximately 160 miles of the city’s main roads are treated on eight routes each time the gritters are called out – the distance between Stoke-on-Trent and London. This includes all major roads, main bus routes and access roads for emergency services.
The 450 grit bins spread across the city are being replenished so residents can treat the roads and pavements in their neighbourhoods that the gritters are unable or not scheduled to reach.
Last year the crews were called out 87 times whenever road surface temperatures were forecast to be at risk of ice forming or snow falling. Each callout takes between three to four hours to complete, and between 32 and 42 tonnes of salt is used each time. Supporting the drivers is a decision-maker trained by the Met Office to review the latest weather predictions from forecasters before deciding what action to take over the next 24 hours.
Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for transport, regeneration and heritage, said: “Keeping the city moving and motorists safe is our top priority every winter. Our gritting crews are now on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week – including Christmas and New Year – and they are ready to go out at any hour to respond to the forecasts.
“In the same way we are making preparations for winter, I would encourage motorists to make sure they are also ready by getting their vehicles checked, planning journeys and carrying a winter kit in their car, including an ice scraper and de-icer, winter clothes and blankets.”
Additional preparations have been made to tackle the damage to roads and pavements that winter can bring, with last year being one of the most severe in recent years. As part of this, the council has more than doubled the number of repair crews. Their job will be to fix potholes, and in the event of extreme wintry conditions, supporting the gritting and snow clearance operations.
Cllr Jellyman added: “Last winter people up and down the country were having to put up with appalling road conditions brought on by the severest winter in recent memory. Extreme weather is becoming more common and we can’t predict how bad it will be this time, but this year we are the most prepared we have been this century.
“We have more crews on the ground to react to repairs, such as potholes, and the 30 miles of roads we have resurfaced since April means many of our busiest roads and junctions are in excellent condition as we head into winter.”
When the decision is made to send the gritters out, an email alert is sent to the 3,000 residents who have so far signed up for the GovDelivery service, giving them a weather update and the time the gritters will be going out to treat roads. Updates are also put on @stokehighways and on the council’s Facebook page. To sign up for the email alerts, visit www.stoke.gov.uk/stayconnected.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987.