Norwich City Council prepares for harsh winter

Preparations for another harsh winter were under way in Norwich yesterday as 80 road gritting staff were trained and several vehicles taken out of storage.

Last year saw a perfect storm of snow, ice and freezing temperatures combine to create treacherous condition across the city during Britain's worst winter in 30 years.

The council has said that it was anticipating all conditions and that a total of 3,000 tonnes of salt was already in storage ready to make the city's roads safe.

Amy Lyall, a spokesperson for Norwich City Council, said: 'The aim is to get just over 100 miles gritted in three hours from when they leave the depot. That's all the treated roads in Norwich, that's your A and B roads and some bus routes.'

She said that despite the conditions last year the council managed to hit its targets and grit all of the roads it had committed to treating.

'We don't grit every highway or footpath, that wouldn't be feasible, so we tried a set network and everyone will live within a few hundred metres of a treated road in Norwich,' she said. 'Walking, we do the footways in the city centre and that's about it.'

'From Thursday until April 15 it's a 24/7 operation, we're monitoring the forecast and these guys are ready to go out. Generally they could be on the road in a couple of hours.'

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At the Mile Cross depot in Norwich yesterday were six gritting vehicles and one small brine-spraying buggy that is used on the city's pedestrianised areas and footpaths.

Two of the gritters were owned by May Gurney, the council's contractor for the service, three were rented from ECON at a cost of �2,200 per week and one was owned by the council itself.

The last vehicle was used as a spare last year but is set to be scrapped as part of a �40,000 cost-cutting measure by the council.

A report to the last Norwich Highways Agency Committee said that losing the vehicle could present a higher risk of missing the three-hour target for gritting the city's roads in the case of breakdowns or accidents.

But the council has said that the roads it will treat will remain largely unchanged from last year and the service will be just as comprehensive.