Ready for battle as bad weather looms

The Promenade in Blackpool during the snow last year
The Promenade in Blackpool during the snow last year
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HIGHWAYS chiefs have insisted they have learned their lessons in the battle to ensure winter weather does not bring the Fylde coast to a standstill.

Snow and ice caused chaos across the region last year – but with temperatures forecast to fall as low as minus 20 council bosses have said they are ready.

In Fylde and Wyre, Lancashire County Council has invested in a new de-icer which works below minus eight, while Blackpool Council’s highways team will be running two new, more effective gritters.

Lancashire County Council has also made changes to its priority road network, adding key routes flagged up by residents in an effort to ensure public transport keeps moving.

Andy Ashcroft, the county council’s public realm manager, said: “From my perspective the weather we had last year was exceptional, there’s no two ways about it.

“It was the combination of the snowfall and then the temperature drop, below zero night-time and daytime, that was the fundamental issue. We’re better prepared than we were last season with that knowledge of the extreme weather conditions and the treatment we have in stock.

“We’ve certainly got enough resources in stock to address similar severe weather conditions to the ones we experienced last year.”

The county council uses three gritters in Wyre and six in Fylde, but the salt used becomes less effective at minus five and stops working completely at minus eight.

It’s at this point the new liquid anti-freeze – which was not available to the council last year – will be used on the priority network in an attempt to avoid the problems of last year.

But Mr Ashcroft stressed that, because of the cost involved, it will only be used when grit will not be an effective treatment.

Blackpool Council do not have the new anti-freeze as they don’t have the right vehicles to spread it, but said they will consider investing in it in the future if it proves successful elsewhere.

According to long-range weather forecaster Exacta Weather, snowfall could arrive across the UK this month and temperatures between now and January could dip as low as minus 20, with the cold and snowy weather forecast to last into the new year.

Blackpool Council’s winter weather team are now on stand-by until the end of March, and they hope their new gritters will give better coverage to both the roads and pavements.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets and transport, said: “We carefully monitor the weather to ensure that the roads are treated if there’s a risk of them being icy. We do as much as we can to keep people travelling safely around Blackpool but we also need drivers to take extra care.

“This year we have two brand new gritting machines that will improve the way the salt is spread, making it more efficient. We also have more than 20 grit bins located in residential areas for people to use.”