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Gritting, salt bins and winter road services

Salt bins, road gritting, treatment routes and advice on clearing snow from roads and paths.

What information do councils use when deciding to grit?

As well as being updated with regular national forecasts and local information for nearby weather stations, Winter Duty Managers monitor a network of sensors embedded in roads across the UK. Each is connected by cable or mobile phone technology to an automatic weather station (grey box by the roadside) and measures road and air temperatures, rain, dew and salt levels.

The sensors are sited either on a representative stretch of road (no nearby trees, buildings or bridges, which offer some protection from the cold), or traditional cold spots. The weather stations then beam back information to an intranet for officials to monitor, along with analysis by meteorologists using local weather forecasts.

What does the council do to keep our roads clear in winter?

Please watch the video below to find out more:

How does the council decide which roads and footpaths to treat?

To make the best use of our resources, we focus our efforts in the following order:

  1. major roads between cities and large towns
  2. roads leading to smaller towns and villages
  3. any remaining roads
  4. footways and shopping areas.

With in excess of 3500km of roads in the East Riding, our network is much larger than most, so we cannot guarantee we can keep every road open during bad weather. 

Does the council treat cycle paths?

To make the best use of our resources, we focus our efforts in the following order: 

  1. Precautionary network 
  2. Secondary network 
  3. Footways and car parks.

What contingency plans are in place should a council run out of grit?

Many councils have set up arrangements with neighbouring authorities to share supplies if stocks get low and gritting equipment if weather is particularly severe in some areas and not others.

The Department for Transport has a strategic stockpile for use as a last resort. This year it's about 305,000 tonnes, with a further 120,000 being held by the Highways Agency. Salt from the national stockpile, spread between depots throughout the UK, is released on a weekly basis to the councils which the Department considers are the most in need.

The 2010 Quarmby Review on Winter Resilience recommend English highways authorities set a 'winter resilience benchmark' for councils of 12 days/48 runs-worth of salt ahead of each gritting season (October 1 to late March 1). The Department for Transport says these recommendations should be adopted.

How have winter services been improved?

We have a number of strategic salt reserves stored in locations across the East Riding in case there is a national shortage and we are unable to buy salt.

Our new gritting vehicles:
  • direct the driver to roads that require gritting
  • adjust the salt spreading automatically
  • use pre-wetted salt that significantly improves the performance and reduces the amount we need to use on the roads.

Where is my nearest salt bin?

Salt bin locations are indicated on the map by a green circle.

Access the interactive map via the button below:

Map of salt bin locations

The criteria for new salt bins:

When looking to place new salt bins, the council reviews a number of factors including the:

  • severity of any road bend
  • level of any additional risk, such as ditches, junctions, surface water, uneven surfaces
  • approximate traffic flows
  • approximate pedestrian volume
  • proximity to a school or public bus route
  • available space for the bin
  • location on an existing treatment route
  • proximity to nearby bins
  • slope of the road.

We will also consider any additional factors, such as the location of doctors surgeries, emergency services, hospitals, schools, designated elderly persons residences, churches.

Once placed, the use and treatment of the bin will be monitored. Bins will be removed in the following circumstances: 

  • Underutilisation - bins found not to be used over periods of adverse weather
  • When the placement of the bin becomes unduly contentious
  • General and persistent misuse of the salt bin
  • Two, or more, acts of vandalism to the salt bin.

How often are salt bins refilled?

We will fill salt bins twice during winter and again when we are told that they need refilling, however, the speed at which they can be refilled does depend on weather conditions, but we always make sure that priority roads are treated first.

Where can I use the salt from a salt bin?

You can use the salt in a salt bin to help with snow and ice on public roads and footpaths.

You must not use it for private driveways, car parks or other non-public areas.

Salt for private roads and properties can be purchased from local builders' merchants, who will normally deliver this to you.

How can I safely salt my road?

Follow this guidance to help you safely salt your road and footpath:
  • Consider your own health and safety at all times - wear appropriate clothing and footwear to keep warm and prevent falls. High visibility items also help you to be seen on the roads
  • If you have any health problems, consider asking for help from neighbours
  • Try to remove snow on a path (where possible) first before placing salt. This helps to stop residual water from freezing over
  • Do not obstruct paths or vehicle access with piles of snow
  • Salt can treat a wide area and does not need to be spread thickly. For example, an amount the size of a bag of sugar can treat a footway about 10 paces long
  • Use buckets or a wheelbarrow to transport salt over long distances
  • Avoid skin contact as road salt can cause skin irritation
  • Do not use water as it can change to ice and make the situation worse
  • Make sure you do not leave any of the tools, such as a shovel, you are using unattended or on the highway and clear them away after use.

You can find more advice on clearing snow from the Met Office (external website).

Can people be sued if someone falls on a path or pavement they have cleared?

The government has issued guidance saying that you can clear snow and ice from pavements yourself. It's unlikely that you will be sued or held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you’ve cleared it carefully.

GOV.UK - Clear snow from a road, path or cycleway (external website)

How do you let parents, carers and teachers know if a school is closed?

The council's Improvement and Learning Service update the School Closures directory as soon as a school closes due to adverse weather, and sends an email out to the School Closure email group.

Website

Please check the schools closure list to see if your child's school is closed due to adverse weather conditions:

East Riding Schools Closure List

Email

If a school is to close due to adverse weather the council's Improvement and Learning Service sends an email out to the School Closure email group. If you would like to contact the ILS about the School Closure email group please use the address below: 

Email: ils.support@eastriding.gov.uk

Local radio

Local radio stations are informed of any school closures by the school so that they can broadcast the details and alert parents. The radio station should be informed as early as possible, and preferably before 7.00 am, to allow parents time to make childcare arrangements. Stations informed of school closures are as follows:

  • BBC Radio Humberside - Frequency: 95.9 MHz
  • Viking Radio (Bauer Radio) - Frequency: FM: 96.9 MHz; DAB:10D; RDS: VIKING
  • BBC Radio York - Frequency: 103.7, 95.5, 104.3FM
  • Greatest Hits Radio (was KC FM) - Frequency: 99.8 MHz

Social media

East Riding of Yorkshire Council Facebook page (external website)

East Riding of Yorkshire Council Twitter feed (external website)

Other methods

Some schools and nurseries use their own Twitter, email and text messaging feeds to inform their parents who have signed-up to accept notifications of plans to close their premises.

Please use the council's school finder if you want to check with a school what procedures are in place to notify of a school closure or to request notification:

East Riding School and Nursery Finder

Why do East Riding gritters have names?

To find out why our gritters have funny names such as Gritney Spears and Spreaddie Flintoff read the news story about 5-year-old Theo Cothill, of Beverley's fantastic idea:

New names for council’s gritter lorries are unveiled

Where can I get further advice about staying safe during winter?

More about winter weather advice from the council.

There is also more information about keeping our roads clear and safe this winter from the Local Government Association:

Local Government Association: Your winter weather questions answered (external website)

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