Grit set go! Sandwell is ready for the winter

Published 25th October 2018

Lee and Mark with Cllr Hosell getting ready for the winter

Sandwell Council is well-prepared for winter, with more than 5,000 tonnes of salt in stock and a new fleet of gritters ready to tackle snow and ice.

The council’s fleet of gritter lorries have been replaced with new vehicles ready to treat Sandwell’s roads with more than 55 tonnes of salt every time they leave the depot.

The nine new gritting trucks will also be maintained in-house rather than by an outside company. The new arrangement is slightly cheaper than leasing the vehicles over seven years.

Among the new trucks are three 4x4 gritters, which will be more effective in hilly areas. 

The investment follows a survey of residents who overwhelmingly supported the council’s winter maintenance efforts and prioritised its funding above many other council services.

The National Highways and Transport Public Satisfaction Survey also put Sandwell in the top five of all metropolitan borough councils for resident satisfaction with winter gritting.

And the council came at the very top of the list for effectively informing residents about gritting and winter road maintenance – thanks to its hugely popular Sandwell Facebook page and @sandwellcouncil and @sandwellroads Twitter accounts.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for highways and environment Councillor David Hosell used to drive a gritter lorry himself for West Bromwich Council in the 1970s. He said: “We know that keeping the roads moving in winter is a really high priority for our residents. 

“When we talked to people about budgets a couple of years ago, our winter maintenance plan was one of people’s top priorities and something where people desperately didn’t want to see any cuts in service.

“We’ve invested in a new gritting fleet, which is slightly cheaper than hiring them out every year which is what we’ve done previously. It also means we can use our own fleet services team to maintain them, instead of contracting this work out.

“The long-range forecast is still uncertain, but we are preparing for the potential for a colder than average winter, but as with anything, it’s difficult to predict.

“The main thing is that we are well-prepared and our staff are able to do the fantastic job they always do each winter - especially in case we get another winter like the last one.”

Sandwell’s gritting crew will go on 24-hour standby from November 1 until the end of April, available to go out whenever roadside temperatures fall close to freezing.

Last winter, (2017/18) Sandwell Council’s gritting crew completed 91 gritting runs covering 23,660 miles (the distance from Sandwell to Christ Church in New Zealand and back), putting down more than 5,000 tonnes of rock salt.