Council insists it’s ready for the snow and ice but warn motorists to prepare

AS the temperature drops the team at East Sussex Highways (ESH) is getting ready to grit the roads during the winter months with more salt than ever before to cope with the potential demand.

The organisation, which is responsible for areas including roads, pavements, grass verges and drains, is a partnership between East Sussex County Council and contractors Kier.

Roger Williams (Head of Highways) pictured with a gritter, Ringmer Depot. 11/10/13

Roger Williams (Head of Highways) pictured with a gritter, Ringmer Depot. 11/10/13

There is a total of 24 gritters at the ready which cost £10,000 to deploy at a time and they can travel up to 30mph while gritting the roads.

ESH has come under fire from motorists in the past who have been left stranded on roads in icy and snowy conditions

In March just two gritters were spotted in Hastings when the snow started to fall heavily. By 6pm the town was gridlocked. It was the worst winter weather the town had faced in a generation.

Hundreds of drivers had to ditch their cars by the side of the road and walk home. Schools closed down and the town came to a shuddering halt.

However this winter the county council says it is prepared and ready to go. But Roger Williams, head of Highways East Sussex County Council, said the team had been working hard to not only communicate better with drivers but that changes had also been made to the system this year.

He also said that motorists must play their part in being prepared for the cold snap and take a winter kit with them including de-icer, a blanket and mobile phone charger.

Roger Williams, head of highways, said: “We have been preparing all through the summer ready for the winter season that starts for us on November 1. We’ve got 24 gritters, all of which have been serviced and ready to roll, 12,000 tonnes of salt which is more than we ever had have had in previous years. We’ve filled our thousand grit bins ready to go. We’ve got forecast coming in from the Met office three times a day and all our drivers trained so we’re absolutely ready in terms of the season coming and the winter that we are all going to be facing.

“We’ve made some changes this year, we’ve made sure we’ve updated the software that we use for making those decisions in sending the gritters out. We’ve got thermal mapping this year which shows us the colder roads in the county so we treat those first rather than the warmer roads. We’re putting more information out to the public, we’re improving our website and using Twitter more this year as well.”