7,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled as council prepares for winter

South Tyneside Council's gritters are ready for the cold weather.
South Tyneside Council's gritters are ready for the cold weather.

South Tyneside Council has stockpiled thousands of tonnes of salt to help keep roads open this winter.

Earlier this year, extreme weather caused by the Beast from the East and Storm Emma saw major disruption to public transport and services.

As weather worsened, the council used up its 7,000-tonne salt stockpile and was forced to buy in an extra 2,000 tonnes.

The total cost to the council, between December 2017 and March 2018 -reached more than £305,000.

At a full council meeting, councillors heard an update on a new ‘Winter Service Plan’ for the coming months.

Lead member for area management and community safety, Coun Nancy Maxwell, said while the Beast from the East provided challenges, there would be no operational changes this year.

She explained: “We will start the winter season with over 7,000 tonnes of salt. This is used by four frontline gritting vehicles with a fifth in reserve.”

She added a tow gritter would help tackle hard to reach areas, and community groups could help provide support in their local area.

The council have £266,000 sidelined to cover winter costs ranging from gritting vehicles, driver costs and buying salt to weather forecasting and loading shovel hire.

It is anticipated that, between November and March, gritting lorries will cover 160km of priority routes in the borough between 10pm and 7am each night.

A report states that “lessons learned” from previous winters had led to improvements in communication - including liaising with support services and community groups.

Gritting will focus on areas of heavy footfall outside shopping areas and schools, steep banks, steps and footbridges before extending to other areas.

Priorities also include protecting vulnerable residents with South Tyneside Homes.

Conservative opposition councillor, Jeff Milburn, welcomed the report and said it showed the council was “as ready as it can be to deal with any harsh winter weather”

He added that a campaign could be launched to encourage residents to support each other during “cold snaps” including clearing paths for neighbours.

“We could all do with looking out for one another a little bit more,” he said.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service