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‘We’re ready for winter’ pledge council bosses as grit runs get under way

PUBLISHED: 16:48 03 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:35 04 December 2018

A gritting truck is loaded with salt. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

A gritting truck is loaded with salt. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council

Council bosses have insisted they are well-stocked to keep Norfolk’s roads gritted this winter, but will be hoping there for no repeat of the Beast from the East.

Martin Wilby, Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMartin Wilby, Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk County Council’s fleet of gritting lorries is due to go out at 3am on Tuesday, December 4 to treat routes with a specially formulated salt designed to stop ice from forming on roads.

They will be out across the county, apart from the city and north coast.

Last winter, the coldest in decades, took its toll on the county’s roads and saw the council come in for criticism during the worst of the weather in February.

That saw traffic came to a standstill on a number of roads around the county, with people unable to get into work and a number of bus services cancelled.

Council bosses conceded, with the benefit of hindsight, they would have put ploughs on gritters sooner on the first day of snowfall. However, they said forecasts had not alerted them to just how much would fall.

The county’s 56 grit lorries are ready to treat routes across the county, with more than a third of Norfolk’s roads on the council’s 49 grit routes, covering about 2,200 miles of A, B and some C roads.

The council has 16,000 tonnes of salt stocked, which it says will be replenished through the winter.

This year will be the first time the whole of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road, also known as the Broadland Northway, will be covered by grit runs. The A11 and A47 are treated by Highways England, not the county council.

Martin Wilby, chairman of the council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “Last winter, we faced extreme weather conditions when the Beast from the East struck.

“Our fleet of 56 gritter trucks was in almost continuous use during the period, gritting roads, clearing snow and helping to free stranded motorists.

“There’s no way of telling whether we’ll experience anything similar this winter but if it is another bad winter we are well-prepared, with plenty of salt and a contract that means we will continue to get topped up throughout the winter, no matter how much we need to use.”

The salt used to treat roads in Norfolk works by reducing the freezing point of water on the surface. However, even when roads are treated there is no guarantee they will be completely clear of ice or snow.

People can check which roads are on the council’s gritting routes at www.norfolk.gov.uk/gritting. which also shows the 1,900 grit bins County Hall fills, which people can use on public pavements, cycle paths and roads.

Can I clear snow and ice myself?

The council says people are free to use grit from the grit bins in public spaces such as pavements, cycle paths and roads.

The county council says, although many people helped keep pavements and public spaces around their homes clear of snow, others were put off doing so because of fears of being sued.

But they say: “It is extremely unlikely that someone who has attempted to clear snow in a careful manner will be sued or held legally responsible if someone slips or falls on ice or snow at their property.

“People should not be deterred from performing a socially responsible act, such as clearing a path of snow, by the fear that someone may subsequently get injured slipping on the path.

“Though the person clearing the snow does have responsibilities when doing the job, mainly to ensure that they are not making the area more dangerous by allowing it to refreeze, it is important to note that those walking on snow and ice have responsibilities themselves. A common sense approach is encouraged.”

However, the council urged people to use the grit sparingly. A tablespoon of salt will treat an area of one square metre,

Why aren’t all pavements treated?

Although most pavements in Norfolk are not gritted as standard, the county council does treat some of the pedestrianised areas and main pavements in the centre of Norwich and some pedestrianised areas in the centre of King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth.

They say, after a prolonged period of snow, the county council would treat other pavements on a priority basis.

The council says it does not generally treat cycle paths, although some that are next treated roads on its priority network may get the benefit of salt that has been used to treat the roads.

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