New �3.3m depot filling up with salt as winter looms

IPSWICH: With forecasters preparing for another cold winter ahead, road engineers are filling up their �3.3 million new depot with salt ready for the storm ahead.

The depot has been created at Goddard Road on the edge of Ipswich to replace the Great Blakenham depot which is being sold to become the site for the county’s waste incinerator.

Bosses insist that the new depot is far better than the larger site it replaces – and it can store much more salt.

The first salt arrived at the barn at the weekend – just as the county is preparing for its first wintry problems. Transport manager Mike Young said this is the first week that the county has gone on “winter alert”, monitoring weather reports and preparing to put drivers on stand by.

Early indications are that there could be a frost tonight and tomorrow night, but by the end of the week it should be milder.

Depot manager Graeme Lewin said the council was prepared for another cold winter.

He said: “Early indications we have had from the weather forecasters are that this winter could be colder than average – but not as cold as last year. But it is impossible to be accurate so far ahead so we just have to be ready for whatever the winter throws at us and this new depot is much better than what we had before.”

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As well as handling gritting for the county council, it is also used by Highways Agency contractors – and elsewhere on the site there are workshops to maintain the council’s fleet of vehicles.

Eventually it will also be used to maintain its fire appliances when their maintenance is moved from their current headquarters in Colchester Road.

By the end of this month, Suffolk should have its full allocation of salt. It has had no problems in stocking up before the season starts. However there are concerns about ability to supply enough salt if this winter is as tough as the last.

Mr Lewin said: “We are told that last year was a one in 30-year occurrence, but the one before that was a one in 20-year occurrence. We’ll just have to hope this year we don’t have a one in 50-year winter!”

Now the county has started monitoring the weather for the winter, it will try to ensure the supply does not run too thin.

“When the snow started last year we used a lot of grit very quickly and then realised it would not be easy to get extra supplies.

“Hopefully we learned a few lessons then – and this year will be a bit less frantic,” he added.

n Are you happy about the winter preparations? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail evening starletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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