Councils are stockpiling more salt in preparation for this year’s winter, according to the latest figures from highways bosses.
A Local Government Association survey of councils across England and Wales estimates an increase on the 1.3 million tonnes of salt stockpiled in depots in 2012.
Despite milder conditions so far this year, councils are constantly monitoring weather conditions and were out gritting in the north of England as temperatures fell below freezing for the first time last week.
The survey finds that 95% of councils are either maintaining or increasing stock levels this winter, with around half also planning to work alongside neighbouring councils to share equipment and salt.
Councils are also embracing innovative methods of tackling winter weather with 82% using GPS trackers on their gritters this year and others using liquid de-icers, brine and sugar-coated salt – less likely to be blown off roads by wind or traffic.
Other key findings from the survey include:
Salt – 68% of councils are aiming to have the same amount of salt as last year with 27% aiming to have more salt.
Equipment – Councils owned or leased an average of nine full-sized gritters (1,174 in total for responding councils). Twenty-six councils had purchased full-sized gritters over the last 12 months.
Working with communities – 79% of councils are using community grit bins so members of the public can access salt and are recruiting snow volunteers to help spread salt on pavements and paths.
Communication – 91% of councils will be using Twitter to keep residents updated on weather warnings, gritting activity and road disruptions this winter. Other means of keeping residents informed will include council websites, leafleting and via the local media.
Cllr Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s economy and transport board, said: “Despite tough financial times, councils are investing in new gritting equipment, exploring innovative techniques to tackle snow and frost and working alongside neighbouring councils and community groups.
“Although it is mild at present, councils are monitoring up-to-the-minute weather reports and have been out testing equipment and gritting routes to make sure they are ready to act quickly on whatever this winter throws at us.
“Councils will be treating as many roads as possible but keeping the country moving will always be a community effort. Thousands of extra grit bins have been installed and filled for people living in side streets and thousands of snow volunteers recruited to help grit hard-to-reach areas.”