Budget boost for Hartlepool as mild winter leaves a mountain of road salt unused


A MILDER winter has led to transport bosses needing to use less salt on the roads which is set to result in a budget boost.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s current winter maintenance budget for 2013-14 is £298,000 but the gritters haven’t needed to be used as much with 1,700 less tonnes of salt being spread on town roads compared to the year before.

While there has been regular stormy spells, there hasn’t been as much frost, ice and snow resulting in less gritting.

Senior officers say with a few weeks of winter left it is still to early to say exactly what the underspend will be but officials have described it as “fairly large” with any money left over going back into the council’s general pot.

This year, the council has spread 1,109 tonnes of salt with 42 treatments, compared to 2,848 tonnes of salt in 2012-13 and 1,997 tonnes in 2011-12.

Mike Blair, highways, traffic and transport manager, said the budget for next winter is still expected to be around the same adding it is always difficult to predict what the winter weather will throw up.

He added the gritting team is on standby and there are costs associated with that even if the gritters aren’t needed.

Mr Blair said: “This winter so far we have used 1,109 tonnes of salt which, while down on last year, is still a significant amount.

“We are not expecting anymore severe weather although the five day forecast does show that frost treatments will be needed.

“It is never good to be treating the roads on a regular basis and all the other problems that come with it so this year hasn’t been too bad but that has been offset with some of the flooding problems experienced.

“Overall we are expecting a fairly large underspend and that will go back into the general pot and we’ll start again next year.”

The council has a supervisor and gritter drivers on standby, with five gritters available to use.

The salt barn is based in Brenda Road and that has been fully stocked all winter.

There is also a patching squad working on repairing potholes caused by bad weather but Mr Blair said he’d prefer to be able to resurface whole roads as patching only lasts round two years, as long as they are not hit by severe temperatures.

Ring (01429) 523333 to report potholes to the council.