As the county braces itself for winter, Northumberland County Council has invested £1million updating its fleet of gritters.
With a total of 29 salt spreaders covering thousands of miles each year, the authority has just bought seven state-of-the-art machines as part of its rolling fleet renewal. Costing more than £100,000 each, the high-tech machines help ensure the county stays open for business, whatever the weather.
Fitted with all-round cameras for real-time monitoring from base, the cameras also provide a high level of operational safety. Other on-board controls give the ability to change the amount and direction of salt being spread to account for differing road conditions.
The gritters are just one part of a major operation which swings into action during the colder months, involving more than 100 staff, 36,000 tonnes of salt, 1,600 grit bins and more than 3,000 miles of roads.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: "With thousands of miles of roads in the county, our workforce is always well prepared to meet the challenges of winter weather. The geography of the county presents unique challenges where it can be snowing over the tops but bright sunshine at the coast.
"Thankfully we have access to some state-of-the-art equipment, from detailed weather-forecasting software to road mounted cameras across the region giving us real-time information on weather conditions, so we can establish exactly where needs gritting and at what level.
"And these days all the gritters are fitted with tracking devices to ensure their location is known at all times - providing an extra level of safety especially for those working in more rural areas. “When we get bad weather, it can really have an impact so we make sure our alerts page and the social media channels gives residents clear information."
People can sign up to the council’s Twitter and Facebook channels for information on school closures, severe weather warnings, winter service information, service disruptions and closures - Twitter: @northumberlands and Facebook: @northumberlands/nccalerts.