'We will not run out of winter grit' - Cumbria transport chiefs pledge (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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'We will not run out of winter grit' - Cumbria transport chiefs pledge
TRANSPORT chiefs insist Cumbria will not run out of road salt this winter amid forecasts of snow as early as November.
Cumbria County Council (CCC) has increased its stock-pile of grit after almost running out during last year’s prolonged cold snap.
The authority said it had ‘more grit than ever before’, boosting the amount by 20,000 tonnes from previous winters.
Some 24,600 tonnes of rock salt is currently stored at ten depots around the county, with another 500 tonnes of salt in roadside bins. A council spokesman said: “We won’t run out of grit this year. It’s as sure as saying Tesco won’t run out of sugar.”
Independent forecasters Exacta Weather have predicted ‘below-average temperatures’ in northern England from December to February.
Forecaster James Madden said: “I expect to see the first signs of some moderate to heavy snowfalls as early as October, or November, with the heaviest snowfall between November and January.”
CCC, which has a winter budget of almost £4 million, said it had taken into account Cumbria’s two previous wint-ers and the anticipation of an early freeze this year. It has already started monitoring temperature changes and receiving daily weather reports.
The authority receives the forecast at 12.30pm, deploying gritters if frost, ice, or snow are likely. Priority roads are gritted within three hours, and second priority roads within five hours, followed by other routes.
South Lakeland experienced heavy snow and record freezing temperatures throughout last November and December.
The Westmorland Gazette launched a Grit Watch campaign after being inundated with calls and emails from angry readers about salt bins that had not been topped up. It affected several pedestrian areas, with streets turned into ice-rinks, and left many people, part-icularly the elderly, housebound.
Sonia Mangan, director of Age UK South Lakeland, said she hoped people would help elderly neighbours again this year. “We need to do exactly the same as we did last year, offering people support, giving a knock on the door, and helping clear driveways and pavements.”
She added that it was important for elderly people to get out of the house. “Not having that social contact which keeps you going can make people depressed,” she said.
“We would encourage people to contact us because we might be able to help in doing those social things that are important.”
CCC said it would supply salt to parish and district councils when they needed it, so communities could ‘self-grit’ during prolonged freezing weather.
The spokesman added: “We would like to remind the public that if salt bins need to be replenished they must inform us by calling the highways hotline on 0845-606-6609.”