Gritters ready for the worst

The Hartlepool Borough Council gritting team at their depot and (inset) Mike Blair
The Hartlepool Borough Council gritting team at their depot and (inset) Mike Blair

ROADS chiefs say they are well stocked with grit and are expecting more to be delivered this week.

Hartlepool Borough Council has around 1,200 tonnes of road salt in preparation for freezing temeperatures and say they are well stocked should there be a change in the current mild conditons.

Bosses say they have used a small amount of their grit stocks so far and a delivery of a further 300 tonnes is expected this week.

Gritters have not been widely needed on the roads so far this winter and have been called into operation for about a week as temperatures have rarely reached freezing.

It compares to last December, which saw gritters spread 750 tonnes of salt in just over a week, while heavy snowfall also caused chaos across Hartlepool and east Durham.

Mike Blair, highways, traffic and transport manager at the council, said: “We are fully prepared for a prolongued period of wintry weather between now and the end of the season.

“Salt stocks are well up and we are getting a top-up between Christmas and the new year.

“It has been reasonably mild up to now compared to the previous two years, which were exceptional. But the main weather period used to be February and March and that colder weather could still be yet to come.”

Hartlepool Borough Council, Durham County Council and Stockton Borough Council, along with nine other North-East local authorities, have formed the North-East Regional Winter Maintenance Working Group to deal with wintry conditions.

The group aims to ensure the region is as prepared as possible in the event of severe weather and buy additional salt stocks if required.

The regional group is committed to being up-to-date with best practice both regionally and nationally, sharing resources in times of great need and being clear on communications with residents and road users across the region.

Hartlepool Borough Council has a team of four gritters and teams spread salt around three hours before roads are expected to freeze.

The first priority roads include the A689, York Road, Stockton Road and Catcote Road, with second priority being more minor roads around town.

Hartlepool council gets its salt from the Boulby Pot Ash, near Redcar, and the salt barn is continually re-stocked throughout the winter.

The council’s winter maintenance budget is around the £200,000 mark, but last year the local authority spent £260,000 due to the severe conditions.

Durham County Council’s winter maintenance budget is £2.43m and the authority at the start of the season it had a salt stock of 45,000 tonnes, 5,000 tonnes more than last year.

Stockton Borough Council had around 2,750 tonnes of salt in stock at the start of the season.