Road chiefs warn over grit stocks

Highway chiefs are warning they have already used almost half their winter stocks of salt.

Councils across the west of England are rationing their grit supplies as forecasters predict the cold weather will continue well past Christmas.



After heavy gritting, Wiltshire Council has used 7,000 tonnes of the 13,700 tonnes it ordered.



Despite bringing in more grit and salt than ever before Wiltshire's head of road services told the Western Daily Press he is concerned about running out of grit.



The council said that in previous years it used about 8,000 tonnes, but last winter it used 11,000 tonnes.



The council is now asking for extra supplies from a national reserve.



Graeme Hay, who is manager of the council's highways department, told the newspaper: "We're haven't even got to Christmas yet, we still have the rest of January and February to go.



"We're going to have to be cautious in our approach.



"We will put down sufficient to do the job, but not too much."



Councillor Dick Tonge, the council's cabinet member for highways, said: "I would like to thank staff for their hard work so far and their dedication in continuing to tackle the problems the winter weather is causing.



"We started this year with nearly 14,000 tonnes of salt and we still have more than 7,000 tonnes in stock.



"Winter has started a lot earlier this year and we are managing salt stocks carefully and taking precautions should the Met Office forecast long-term severe weather."



The Somerset highways team has also asked the Government for more grit after using 2,000 tonnes over the last two weeks.



The council, which has used about 3,000 tonnes more salt this year than this time last year, is now down to 1,100 tonnes.



Network manager Geoff Dight said: "It's not good, but it's not panic stations.



"Concern was rising but we were all talking to each other (highways authorities) and hopefully should get through to early January.



"We have just found out that we've been successful in our bid to the Government's resilience stockpile and hope to get 700-800 tonnes week commencing December 27, so we're a lot happier now than we were.



"Whilst we weren't confident, we also weren't overly worried, but it just all depends on the weather and if we get a major snow event."



Somerset Council has stopped treating its secondary road network but said it will still plough these routes during snow conditions.



In Plymouth only major routes are being treated as gritting supplies also begin to run low, but the council has today received a new delivery of salt.



A city council spokeswoman said: "We are pleased to now confirm that 100 tonnes of salt have just been delivered and we are expecting a further 200 tonnes in the next 48 hours.



"This will allow us to continue to grit primary and some secondary routes for the foreseeable future.



"We will continue to liaise with the police on other 'hot spots' that need to be treated and we will aim to treat secondary routes during our morning runs where supplies allow.



"Temperatures are currently forecast to dip as low as -10C in Plymouth tonight and icy conditions will continue so our advice is still to avoid any unnecessary journeys."



Meanwhile, according to the TaxPayers' Alliance councils have ordered less road salt to treat icy roads this year than last year.



The councils have ordered 1.48 million tonnes in 2010/11 compared with just under 1.51 million tonnes in 2009/10, a report by the alliance said.



It added that 75 of the 205 UK councils surveyed had not received all of this year's road salt order.



The alliance also looked at the cost of purchasing emergency supplies of road salt in 2009/10 which came to £10.5 million.



The amount spent varied considerably, with Newcastle Council spending £331,400 on emergency road salt but neighbouring Sunderland not spending anything.



Similarly, Bradford spent £286,000 while Leeds spent £13,400.







But the Local Government Association (LGA) dismissed the TaxPayers' Alliance's claims.

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, said the TaxPayers' Alliance research was "flawed" and "nothing more than an attempt to stir up panic".



He said the alliance had compared eight months-worth of salt orders with an entire year's-worth.



Mr Box said: "The simple fact is that councils prepared even better for this winter, and started it with a third more salt stockpiled than last year."



Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower