Gritting restricted as salt rationed

AS SUFFOLK braces itself for another blast of snow and ice, gritters have been working around the clock to keep the county moving.

Jo Thewlis

AS SUFFOLK braces itself for another blast of snow and ice, gritters have been working around the clock to keep the county moving.

A team of 100 workers at Suffolk County Council's Highway's depot in Great Blakenham have been working 12-hour shifts over Christmas and the New Year to keep our main roads clear.

Mike Slinn, 46, was on duty over the festive period and works from 12am to 12pm, loading trucks with precious salt to keep the deadly ice at bay.

He said: “It does get tiring but it is something you just get used to.

“It is satisfying because we clear the roads so thousands of people can get to work in the mornings and it also saves lives.”

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In a normal year, the county council expects to use around 15,000 tonnes of rock salt over the winter months.

Since December alone, 16,000 tonnes have been spread on the roads and stocks are running low as the cold snap continues.

With minus 8C temperatures expected last night, the county's 38 gritting trucks were being loaded up at 4pm to get a head start against the freezing conditions.

“It does get annoying when people criticise us because they don't get up when we do in the mornings and come to work in the snow,” Mr Slinn said.

“We get out there and put down the salt for their benefit.”

In Essex, a county councillor told the EADT there was enough supplies of salt to last until the weekend.

Norman Hume, in charge of highways and transportation at Essex County Council, stressed last night that main roads had to take priority, with minor roads and many pavements likely to be left untreated.

He said the council was now in the hands of the Government regarding salt allocation following its decision to ration supplies.

“Supply of salt is going to be an issue and there is now going to be salt rationing.

“We are in pretty good shape at the moment. It all revolves around the weather and how long it goes on for.

“We are okay through to the weekend and we have supplies coming though. The Government is not going to leave any one local authority in a worse situation than another local authority so I don't disagree with the decision and will be engaged with that process.”

A spokesman added: “Essex County Council's fleet of winter gritters has been working day and night to treat more than 1,800 miles of the county's main roads as the icy weather continues.”

He said the gritters operated from 7pm on Tuesday into the night with “pre-salting” taking place yesterday and gritters on stand-by across the county from 7pm to make runs throughout the night.