Gritters ready for action as cold weather sets in
As Lancashire prepares for the coldest winter in years, Â£4m is being ploughed into keeping the county's roads running smoothly.
New figures show the scale of preparation needed to keep vehicles moving along more than 1,000 miles of roads in the county.
Lancashire County Council (LCC) – which is responsible for the roads in Fylde and Wyre – is storing 2,900 tons of salt across the county, with 45 gritters primed to operate from seven depots, a report to councillors reveals.
Responsibility for Blackpool’s roads lies with Blackpool Council, which has its own winter plan to keep the roads moving, code named Operation Snowdrop.
Coun Keith Iddon, LCC cabinet member for highways said: “We have the resources to treat all the A roads, all B roads, and some C roads, which adds up to around 1,500 miles – about a third of the total in Lancashire, within four hours of a freeze being forecast.”
During the worst of the weather, the council predicts it could cost up to £100,000 a day keeping traffic moving.
But it says it must prioritise use of its ‘scarce resources’.
The report says it is ‘un-economic, impractical and indeed unjustifiable to treat the whole highway network’.
Blackpool Council says it, too, does not have the resources to grit every road in the resort.
It also treats priority routes within four hours of being notified of ‘potentially hazardous conditions’ while secondary routes are treated during ‘particularly severe’ conditions.
LCC said its priority roads are treated in advance of ice while its reactive service sees workers getting out clearing roads of snow and persistent ice.
The Government Highways Agency manages and maintains all trunk motorway and ‘all-purpose’ roads. Councils then decide which remaining roads are priorities for them to treat.
Coun Iddon said: “Our primary aim is to always keep the main routes moving to ensure people and goods can get where they need to go.
“We’re well prepared for whatever the weather might have in store for us this winter.”
The UK is braced for the coldest winter in five years, according to meteorologists.
The Weather Company forecasts the UK to be hit by very cold Arctic winds this winter. December and January will likely be ‘colder than normal’, with all areas of the country affected by sinking temperatures.
Dr Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company, said: “We expect extended spells with a ridge of pressure in the North Atlantic, especially in early winter.
During November, however, the UK is forecast to enjoy slightly warmer than normal temperatures, along with most parts of Europe.
Emma Sharples, press officer at The Met Office said although “colder spells” were expected this year, there was “still a lot of uncertainty associated with forecasts so far ahead”.
The coldest winter on record was in the winter of 1963, when it fell to -0.18 degrees.
The Met Office recommends people prepare for winter by working through a checklist, including getting a flu jab, buying a winter car kit, ensuring that your home is heated to at least 18 degrees Celsius and make commuter back-up plans.