Drivers urged to take care as ice and snow hit South Tyneside's roads
South Tyneside Council said teams were working round the clock to deal with the impact of snow and ice and to help keep the borough moving.
Traffic chiefs say operations are focusing on major roads, bus routes and steep banks, as well as priority footpaths in shopping areas, around schools and on steps and footbridges, with pre-gritting carried out on priority routes as and when temperatures drop.
Parts of South Tyneside awoke to a dusting of snow on Thursday morning, with others experiencing thick ice from frozen precipitation which fell overnight.
Temperatures were due to fall during Thursday night, though warm slightly to a maximum of seven degrees on Friday.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said the council's identified priority routes cover more than 311kms of carriageway and take around 2.5 hours to treat with salt.
He said motorists are encouraged to take extra care and drive according to the conditions.
“We have plans in place to deal with this type of weather to help keep residents safe and to reduce the impact on our communities as much as we can,” said Cllr Gibson.
“Officers from across the Council and South Tyneside Homes react quickly to any sudden changes in temperatures and are focussed on keeping priority routes clear.
"They are working in difficult conditions clearing snow and ice to ensure walkways are safe for the public to use and so that vulnerable people can get out and about safely.
“We always pre-salt our priority routes ahead of ice and snow coming, with pre-salt runs triggered by advance weather forecasts from the Meteogroup. Though it is important to note that the effect of rock salt depends to a great extent on moving traffic to make it work effectively – it is not an immediate fix.
“Our highways maintenance team will continue to clear roads and footpaths of snow and ice for as long as is needed to keep disruption to a minimum, which is good news for households, communities, school runs and businesses. However, we would like to remind people that we must clear our planned routes first and would ask for patience during these times.”
He said South Tyneside Council operates a night shift from November 1 to March 31 and has a fleet of five gritting wagons.
There are also three pedestrian-operated salt spreaders and 20 hand salters for hard-to-reach footway areas.
The council also maintains more than 200 grit bins that are used to help clear footpaths, shopping centres and anywhere which may be hazardous to the public in the event of ice and snow.
Cllr Gibson said these bins are available across the Borough to assist Council staff in their gritting operations and are not for private use.
Motorists are advised to take greater care than normal in winter driving conditions and to check the local weather forecasts and information websites.
For further details about gritting routes, grit bin locations and a wide range of winter-related advice and information, visit South Tyneside Council’s website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/winterweather or call the Customer Contact Centre on (0191) 427 7000.