Despite our traditionally mild climate, each year we will spend approximately £150,000 on winter maintenance. We have to be prepared to deal with any kind of weather from snow to freezing rain and our partner contractor TOR2 manage the fleet of six gritters which are available 24 hours a day to react to our decision on gritting action. We monitor weather every day from October to April and have inspectors that can check actual road conditions at whatever time of day or night that freezing temperatures are forecast.
We undertake precautionary gritting when the forecast is for ice or snow and we have divided our road network into priority routes to ensure we keep our highest priority routes clear first. Unfortunately, not all roads will be gritted, there simply isn’t enough time and resources available to us to grit everywhere.
Gritting priority is given to three types of roads/routes and based upon the recommendations contained in a National Code of Practice.
- Priority A - Strategic routes and principal roads, important classified roads and bus routes.
- Priority B - All other classified roads, important unclassified roads and bus routes.
- Priority C - In prolonged periods of lying snow/ice, estate and minor access roads in hilly or exposed locations will be treated, and consideration given to important footway routes (e.g. shopping precincts etc).
Treatment of Priority C locations will only be considered when conditions dictate and when all other priorities have been fully and adequately treated and resources become available.
Snow clearance will begin when snow levels reach 30mm or more. It is a common belief that snow ploughs clear all snow from the road surface but as a general rule, they will run about 25mm above so as to avoid damage to the ploughs and hitting any service covers. The remaining snow would be treated with road salt.
Our aim is to clear all priority roads of snow as soon as conditions permit and clearance work will continue as necessary. In certain extreme conditions it may be necessary to spread a mixture of salt and grit to achieve traction particularly in the case of compacted snow.
We have five snow ploughs at our disposal that fit onto the existing gritting fleet.
Practical advice from highway engineers is given below. This is not a comprehensive list.
- Start early: it is much easier to remove fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it.
- Do not use hot water. This will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury.
- Be a good neighbour: some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths leading to their property or indeed the footway fronting their property. Snowfall and cold weather pose particular difficulties for them gaining access to and from their property or walking to the shops.
- If shoveling snow, consider where you are going to put it, so that it does not block people’s paths, or block drainage channels. This could shift the problem elsewhere.
- Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then you an shovel the snow from the centre to the sides.
- Spreading some salt on the area you have cleared will help to prevent any ice forming. Table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged by it. A few grams (a tablespoon) for each square metre you clear should work. The salt found in grit bins will be needed for keeping roads clear. Particular care and attention should be given to steps and steep gradients to ensure snow and ice is removed. You might need to apply additional salt to these areas.
- Use the sun to your advantage. Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight.
- If there is no salt available, then a little sand or ash is a reasonable substitute. It will not have the same de-icing properties as salt but should offer grip under foot.
There is no law preventing you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your property, pathways to your property or public spaces. It is very unlikely that you would face any legal liability, as long as you are careful, and use common sense to ensure that you do not make the pavement or pathway clearly more dangerous than before. People using areas affected by snow and ice also have responsibility to be careful themselves.