Gritting of Derbyshire’s roads in winter is reviewed

Changes to the way Derbyshire’s roads were gritted last winter have been hailed a success by the county council following a review.

Councillor Simon Spencer, Derbyshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “During bad and prolonged winter weather, it was extremely difficult to provide an effective gritting service under the old system of gritting routes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“That’s why we split our gritting routes into two categories and introduced a third to make gritting our roads easier to manage by making better use of staff and equipment to grit and clear snow from more of Derbyshire’s roads.”

All town and parish councils were asked for their views and 85% said the level of gritting and snow clearance by the county council had either improved or remained the same last winter compared to previous winters.

Improvements included:teaming up with district and borough councils except Bolsover and North East Derbyshire to clear local roads and pavements on the county council’s behalf; working with 82 town and parish councils which signed up to the county council’s Snow Warden scheme. Volunteers cleared snow from pavements and paths and reported back conditions in their area; offering a guaranteed minimum payment of £200 to farmers and contractors signed up to help with gritting and snow clearance on some routes. The number of farmers and contractors expressing an interest increased to 120 from 35 the previous year as a result and detailed Snow Info on the county council’s website with gritting routes and maps of completed routes, advice on staying safe and well in winter and regular updates about the latest weather, road conditions and disruption to county council services

Some concerns were raised about particular roads being placed on secondary routes which are only treated in the day, instead of primary routes which are treated day and night and pre-treated where necessary. Each of these roads will be reviewed before this year’s gritting season starts, he said.

The county council spent £4.5m on gritting and snow clearance in 2010/11 and £3.5m in 2011/12.

Councillor Spencer added: “Although the weather wasn’t as extreme as the previous winter, we still faced some very difficult conditions with some heavy snow fall and freezing temperatures.”