Council all set for winter

Gritter comes down past Purdy Lodge services near Belford.

Gritter comes down past Purdy Lodge services near Belford.

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As the county prepares for its first cold snap, Northumberland County Council is ready to roll out its winter services to keep residents safe.

The council has spent recent months servicing gritting vehicles, stockpiling salt and revising gritting routes to prepare for all weather conditions over the coming months.

Around 20,000 tonnes of salt have been delivered to depots across the county and will be distributed across all major routes by a fleet of 30 gritting vehicles. Salt stocks will be frequently monitored and replenished with an expected 36,000 tonnes of salt to be delivered throughout winter months.

Smaller vehicles made available by Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service will help to distribute salt down smaller side streets.

Two snow blowers to deal with snowdrifts in high areas of the county and five gully tankers to help with potential flooding caused by rapid snow melt have also been prepared for use if needed.

A total of 110 council staff are working on winter services but the authority will also rely on vital support from local communities during harsh weather conditions. A number of farmers and sub-contractors have agreed to help with clearing snow in rural areas and voluntary groups will help to clear snow from footpaths in villages.

More than 1,800 grit bins and salt heaps across the county are being inspected and replenished as necessary and contact details are available on each bin should they need refilled during the season.

Councillor Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: “With winter weather on its way, we will be keeping a close eye on conditions so we’re ready to roll out our winter services to keep roads open and ensure our residents’ safety.

“Northumberland is a huge geographic area with some challenging terrain and it’s down to the commitment and dedication of our winter services staff who work round the clock in the worst of conditions that the county stays open for business.”

A customer information leaflet, ‘Highways Services in Winter’, providing details of gritting routes and advice about driving in winter conditions will be available from the end of November.

This leaflet can be picked up from various council buildings including customer contact centres, libraries and depot reception areas and is also available online.

Northumberland County Council is also inviting residents to join more than 30,000 people already signed up to the authorities winter alerts on Facebook and Twitter to keep them informed about vital services during the winter period.