SNOW: Concern from rural parishes about salt stocks

West Sussex County Council delivered extra bags of salt and grit to villages in the north west of the county amid concerns of dealing with the heavy snow.

There were earlier concerns from some parish councils that salt and grit delivered in Autumn to prepare such an event as today’s were not enough, so the county council sent out extra stocks this week with advice that people only need a tiny amount to be effective on roads.

A WSCC spokesman said: “Following the winter of 2009/10 and the problems suffered by a number of remote rural villages the County Council set up an initiative with Parish Councils to provide them with hippo bags - one tonne bags of salt - to enable them to manage the roads in their villages to enable them to keep open key routes in and out of those villages.

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“This was then extended around the whole County to enable local communities to help manage their own networks. This is not a duty which the County Council required to do, it is something it has done to help improve the overall response to managing snow.

“Following the 2010/11 snow it was evident that this initiative was seen as the norm and the number of requests for bags increased.

“In an effort to try and improve distribution, Parish Councils were approached earlier last year with a view to early deliveries into storage where possible and as a consequence over 180 bags were delivered to parishes around the County.

“We constantly monitor the forecasts to try and plan what we will do, this is not straight forward because it is not an exact science and forecasts are regularly changing.

“The forecast for today was significant but was originally turning to sleet/rain and warming up over the weekend with temperatures of up to seven degrees on Monday. Notwithstanding this, a decision was taken to distribute further bags in the northwest of the county which is where the majority of more remote villages are located.

“This is in addition to the numerous grit boxes already located around the county.

“Council teams will continue to work over the weekend and where problems are identified then additional salt supplies will be distributed to rural villages to help them as resources allow.”

The council is also issuing advice on how to use grit salt.

The spokesman said: “It must be highlighted that salt should be used sparingly it is not necessary as soon as it snows, only when it starts to turn to ice. Salt only needs to be spread thinly to do what it needs to do.

“For example, our gritters spread it at 10gms per sq m for ice, even laying at twice this a one tonne bag should cover the equivalent of seven football pitches. We are not able to constantly replenish salt because we simply do not have the resources to do this as well as keep the main roads open.

In 2010/11 this initiative was cited as national good practice in a report on the winter response.”

Meanwhile workers from Horsham District Council, although not the authority responsible for gritting, were out in force this morning.

Director of community services at HDC Natalie Brahma-Pearl said: “It is important to note that HDC are not responsible for grit/salt supplies or for clearing highways/pavements. However we recognise the importance of keeping some strategic locations clear (as best we can) hence why we have a severe weather programme in place.

“HDC staff have been out in full force since 5am this morning ensuring that priority town centre pedestrian routes are cleared and some rural town areas are clear. In additional we have being undertaking many calls to some of the most vulnerable in the district ensuring they are ok, have access to basic food and if they require any medication or regular medical treatment eg. kidney dialysis.

“We have also pro-actively engaged with local businesses asking for their assistance in retail areas to clear shop fronts etc.”