Ribble Valley road ‘gritting’ latest

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COUNTY officials say they are confident they can cope with another harsh winter.

Lancashire County Council will this year spend £4m. to keep the county’s roads as safe as possible, with 30,000 tonnes of salt and grit already stockpiled.

This is more salt than was required even for the winter of 2009/10, when snowfall was severe.

It also has an army of farmers to help keep rural roads open.

The county boasts a fleet of 49 gritting machines, which are fitted with tracking devices, so the gritting process can be digitally monitored from a central location.

All A and B-Class roads will be gritted, as well as other important roads, such as those which serve hospitals. Gritting roads which provide the only means of access to a village will also be a priority.

Important public transport routes will be gritted, but not every bus route will be serviced.

Peter Finch, principal engineer for the Ribble Valley, said: “We try to grit everywhere on the roads across the borough to keep people moving. “The decision to begin spreading salt is made according to weather forecasts and the council prioritises roads and pavements that are most important to keep clear.”

In previous years, the council has only had access to one forecast for the whole of East Lancashire, but this winter the Met Office will be providing an individual forecast for each of the 49 priority gritting routes.

Mr Finch explained: “Previously, there were occasions when, although snow was predicted for East Lancashire, certain areas remained dry, and so salt was wasted with unnecessary gritting.

“Conversely, when snow was not forecast, those routes where snow did fall were not gritted.

“The Winter Service has hopes the new route-based forecasting system will largely eliminate such problems, by allowing them to identify exactly which routes require pre-emptive gritting.”

The council is also aware of the important role the public can play.

Mr Finch added: “Grit bins will be provided, filled with a 50/50 mix of salt and sand, but we ask that people do not use the grit for their own purposes other than to grit the roads and pavements in the vicinity of the bin.

“We also plan to liaise with farmers and other agricultural contractors to take advantage of their additional resources, especially to deal with remote areas.”

Mr Finch stressed the council had been advised by the Government there is no law against residents and traders removing snow from their driveways. As long as they cleared the paths carefully, it is “highly unlikely” they can be held legally responsible for anyone being injured.