Gritters on standby as winter approaches

Published: Friday, 8th November 2019

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 set to drop this weekend and the Met Office forecasting the possibility for some wintry weather in parts of the region over the next 48 hours, the gritters will be heading out on the city’s roads at 6pm tonight.

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 210 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 Exeter. 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 team of decision-makers 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 regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “Our crews are on standby now around the clock – including Christmas and New Year – as the temperature starts to drop towards zero and below, and we’re prepared to tackle snow and ice on our roads.

“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.”

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.

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Call the press office on 01782 232987 (journalists only).