Council invests in nine new gritters to help combat the onset of winter weather in Suffolk

Graham Newman with the new gritters

Graham Newman with the new gritters - Credit: Archant

Nine new gritters have been bought to replace ageing ones on Suffolk roads this winter.

Suffolk Highways’ fleet of 39 gritter vehicles has been bolstered in recent years by upgrades to 29 vehicles, thanks to Suffolk County Council’s partnership with contractor Kier MG, with the nine replacements the latest in a series of improvements.

As part of the contract with Kier MG, additional vehicles can be called if needed, with 112 operators on hand to help combat snow and icy weather.

The regular 39 vehicles are all equipped with attachable snow ploughs, and three mini gritters for use in weight-restricted areas, to combat the winter weather.

Graham Newman, cabinet member for roads, transport and planning at Suffolk County Council, said: “Although last year was not particularly cold the significant levels of rain fall caused the same, if not more, damage to the road network as extremely cold temperature. This was recognised by the Government and as a result Suffolk recieved almost £6million in additional funding to help make the necessary repairs.

“As well as making improvements to the road network across the county, Suffolk Highways is well prepared to deal with whatever rain, ice and snow that this winter brings.”

Around 1,225 miles of routes considered ‘priority one’ are gritted in advance of poor weather conditions, which can take up to two and a half hours to complete.

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A further 845 miles of ‘priority two’ routes are also gritted in the event of long spells of ice and snow.

In addition, a number of local farmers and contractors are on hand with tractors, snow blowers and JCB-type vehicles able to help clear snow.

The weather is monitored at a central control hub at the Kier MG offices in Ipswich, and prioritises reports from residents.

Suffolk County Council has also invested in two ‘velocity patchers’ which can repair pot holes in around 10 minutes, compared to the usual 45 minutes, as a result of damage by severe rain falls.