Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Councils stockpile salt as we await another big freeze

With various parts of the media forecasting another cold winter,Councils are stockpiling thousands of tonnes of extra road salt this year in anticipation of another white winter.

Research carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA) over the past month shows local authorities aimed to have more salt in stock for the start of October than the total amount used throughout the cold spell last year.

On average, councils each aimed to have 1,500 tonnes more salt at the ready to treat roads and pavements than they did at the start of October 2010.

More than half of councils have upped their salt stock levels, with virtually all authorities at least maintaining the same amount as last year.

The figures suggest that councils across England and Wales will be going into the winter with an estimated 1.4 million tonnes of salt, once they have received all of their deliveries. Four per cent of local authorities are still waiting to receive some of the salt they ordered.

The survey carried out by the LGA, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, found that:

* 51 per cent of councils aimed to have more salt in stock for this year's winter gritting season that last year's, with 48 per cent aiming for the same amount.
* Councils each aimed to have the equivalent of 4,900 tonnes of salt in stock by the start of October, as a median average. A similar survey carried out at the same time last year showed councils had 3,400 tonnes.
* Last winter councils each spread 3,900 tonnes of salt on roads and pathways, as a median average.
* The four per cent of councils who had not been provided with all the salt they requested for this October were short by a median average of 500 tonnes each.

Cllr Peter Box, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Economy and Transport Board, said:

"Whatever surprises the weather may have in store for us this winter, motorists can count on council highways teams being better prepared than ever before to keep disruption to a minimum.

"Councils have a huge and important role to play in keeping the country running and know there is no room for complacency. Treating the roads means children can still get to school safely, their parents can get to work, care workers can reach those in need, ambulances and police can tend to emergencies, and the wheels of business don't grind to a halt.

"Local authorities have been hard at work making preparations for this winter ever since the end of the last one and keeping the roads open will be our number one priority.

"This year councils have more salt and better plans in place to make it go further while even more volunteers and community groups have been lined up to help with the great gritting effort."

Source LGA

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