Gritters keep the county moving

RECENT snowfalls could have brought Suffolk to a standstill – but it has taken a huge effort to keep the county's roads open.A behind-the-scenes team of dedicated gritters have taken to our roads to ensure they are as safe as possible.

RECENT snowfalls could have brought Suffolk to a standstill – but it has taken a huge effort to keep the county's roads open.

A behind-the-scenes team of dedicated gritters have taken to our roads to ensure they are as safe as possible.

Across the county, 39 vehicles have been in operation from ten locations, treating more than 1,000 miles worth of A and B roads.

Nearly 15,000 metric tonnes of wetted salt, drafted in from Cleveland, have been put down on Suffolk's roads this winter ensuring traffic does not grind to a halt.

And if the weather is treacherous enough, there are arrangements to bring more than 300 farmers and contractors out on to the roads to assist with the snow clearing.

But all of this is not without cost. In 2003/2004, the total bill for the gritting service was £2.1million, with each road treatment costing £10,000.

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In Ipswich the roads are cleared by a team based at the Ipswich Borough Contracts depot in Hadleigh Road.

Outside the town the roads are kept clear by Suffolk County Council – all except the A14 and A12 south of Ipswich which is cleared by contractors for the Highways Agency.

Suffolk county councillor Julian Swainson said that the teams behind the gritting have delivered a very valuable service again this winter.

He said: "They are a thoroughly dedicated team. They all have day jobs as well and I have been hugely impressed with the way they have worked during the last two or three weeks.

"In Suffolk, we have a better service than most. I know there have been problems in other parts of the country, including Norwich, where the gritting service has not been right and people have suffered big delays.

"But in Suffolk the excellent service has been no accident. We work very hard in the county to make sure we get it right. The management is excellent and people don't get many nasty surprises."

Mr Swainson added that it was a tough job for the gritting team, especially with the recent glut of icy weather.

He said: "They are out night after night and it's a strain on them. We owe them a lot. For the last fortnight, they have been out nearly every night.

"The men and women in that section deserve a holiday!"

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