Suffolk: Gritters out despite mild festive weather in town

The of Suffolk Highways gritting season launch at the start of the winter.

The of Suffolk Highways gritting season launch at the start of the winter. - Credit: Archant

Officials at Suffolk County Council have defended the decision to send out teams of gritters – despite the area enjoying an extremely mild winter.

Gritters were out on the roads of Ipswich on Monday night – even though the temperature varied between seven and eight degrees celsius.

An spokesman for the county said that gritting teams had to rely on specialist forecasts which predicted the road surface temperature – and on Monday temperatures as low as 0.5C had been predicted, the trigger point is 1C.

“The surface temperature is much lower than that a couple of feet off the ground – and we have to rely on forecasts. If we waited until we knew what the weather was it would be too late,” he said.

A temperature of 1.1C was recorded at Hopton on Sea near Lowestoft.

However the gritting teams did not impress charity boss Kevin Garrod, who saw one of the lorries in action in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.

He said: “At 7pm the temperature was 8C and the forecast was for it to rise during the evening – which is precisely what happened.

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“This seemed like a complete waste of money. I wish my charity had enough money to throw it around like this!”

Mr Garrod is a keen skier and said he understood how surface temperature and air temperature could vary.

“You don’t get a difference of six or seven degrees! The weather was doing exactly what had been forecast – I just can’t believe the gritters were out when it was so mild,” he added.

However the council spokesman was unrepentant: “This is a situation where we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

“If we had a warning from our specialist forecasters and didn’t act on it and then there were accidents people would quite understandably be very angry about that.”