With 24 gritters in perfect working order, 12,000 tonnes of salt ready to use and a highways team primed for action, East Sussex County Council is prepared should severe weather strike this winter.
Planning for the season starts months in advance and, on October 10 and 11, the highways depot in Ringmer was a hive of activity as the council’s winter weather plan was fine tuned in an exercise known as Operation Snowdrop.
As well as making sure the gritters, snowblowers and ploughs are ready to go, the two day operation ensures every member of the team, from control room staff to gritter drivers, knows their role when temperatures plummet.
“It is not as simple as watching the local weather and deciding to spend the £10,000 it costs to send the gritters out onto the county’s roads,” said Roger Williams, head of highways. “We are in regular contact with the Met Office and, this year, will be using new weather station technology and thermal mapping to pinpoint when the gritters need to go out and what roads need to be prioritised.”
When temperatures fall below zero, the fleet of gritters springs into action gritting 950 miles of road, 42 per cent of the county’s road network and further than the distance from London to Barcelona.
“Keeping the road network clear and safe is a top priority for the highways team, but grit is not magic dust,” Mr Williams added.
“While we will do our best to keep traffic flowing during severe weather, motorists need to take precautions and be prepared. Carrying a shovel, wearing sensible shoes and only travelling if absolutely necessary are just some of the steps you can take to stay safe this winter.”
For regular updates during severe weather visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/coldsnap