Councils better prepared for winter weather, survey shows

The survey shows that 51 per cent of councils have more salt for the start of this year's winter gritting season than last year's, with 48 per cent aiming for the same amount.

Councils have on average about 4,900 tonnes of salt in stock, 1,500 more tonnes than this time last year. Nearly a third of councils have invested in new gritters and 99 per cent of councils will be updating their websites regularly.

Councils across England and Wales have invested in new fleets of GPS-tracked gritting trucks, snow ploughs and specialist vehicles for narrow and hilly streets. Some are also using new types of salt and methods of spreading it to make supplies last longer.

Thousands of new grit bins have been placed in estates and side streets, residents have been given their own bags of salt along with salt spreaders in some neighbourhoods, and arrangements have been made with parish councils, farmers and community groups to grit hard-to-reach areas.

Council websites will be updated with the latest information on weather, gritting routes, school closures and bin collections, special Twitter accounts and Facebook pages have been set up, and leaflets have been sent out advising residents on winter services, how to drive safely in snow and dispelling the health and safety myths about clearing pavements.

Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said: "Councils have got more salt this year along with better plans to use it and new technology to make it go further. We're well prepared to keep roads safe and traffic moving, whatever the weather throws at us.

"We're receiving up-to-the minute reports from weather experts and our gritting teams are on standby around-the-clock. Highways, street-cleaning and park staff could also be drafted in to help clear snow and ice around places like shops, schools and sheltered accommodation. Some staff have even learned to drive 4x4s to help out if needed.

"Keeping the country moving is a community effort. We'll treat as many roads as we can and have also installed and filled thousands of extra grit bins for people living in side streets, villages and housing estates. Parish councils and residents associations have volunteered to grit hard-to-reach areas and farmers will be helping out on country lanes.

"Councils can be relied upon to keep the pubic up-to-speed with the latest information. Our websites will be constantly updated with weather forecasts, gritting routes, road conditions and school closures, and many councils have set up Gritter Twitter and Facebook sites. Leaflets have been sent to homes advising people about council services, driving in the snow, where grit bins are and how to clear their roads and pavements."

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