Gritting - frequently asked questions
Which roads does the council grit?
We usually treat all major roads plus bus routes, busy roads, and other important routes, such as roads serving hospitals and bus stations, at the same time.
We do not grit side roads unless the weather is very bad. If we think it is necessary to treat minor roads, we will do this after the main roads have been gritted.
How does the council decide when to send the gritters out?
During the winter we monitor road conditions and weather forecasts around the clock. We aim to treat the main roads and other important routes before the ice or snow comes.
We have sensors embedded in the road to check the temperatures and receive updated weather forecasts throughout the day and night.
How can I find out if the gritters are out?
Does the council grit pavements?
Only in very severe weather conditions, such as when we have snow or ice for several days. If this happens, our staff will treat pavements in town centres, outside shops and other busy pedestrian areas.
Sandwell has around 900 miles of pavements - the distance from here to Paris and back. It's simply not possible for the council to grit every pavement in the borough - we would need an army of staff and hundreds of hours to get the job done.
If you're walking in snow or ice, please take care, wear sensible shoes and use grit from the yellow grit bins where necessary.
Am I allowed to clear snow from pavements and pathways? Might I be sued?
Don't be put off clearing paths because you're afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves.
Follow this advice to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively.
And don't believe the myths - it's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries if you have cleared the path carefully.
What is grit made of?
Although most of us call it "grit", what we actually spread on the road is mined rock salt (sodium chloride).
We sometimes mix the rock salt with molasses (a sticky, sugary liquid) which helps the grit stick to the road.
How does grit work?
Water freezes at 0°C and salt prevents water from freezing until the temperature reaches -6°C to -8°C. The salt starts to become less effective at -5°C and almost ineffective at lower temperatures.
To melt snow and ice, the layer of salt put down by our gritters needs cars and other vehicles to drive over it to help it spread.
When we have very heavy snow, it is difficult for any amount of grit to work properly because of the lack of vehicles on the road.
- Find out more about why, when and how we grit by reading about the science of gritting.
- Find out if there are any severe weather warnings from the Met Office.
Where can I find a grit bin?
We do put yellow grit bins around the borough for members of the public to use on roads and pavements. The grit in these yellow bins must only be used on the roads and pavements - it is not for use on private property such as driveways.
Report a problem with a grit bin
Fill in this online form to report a problem with a grit bin - for example if it is damaged, missing or tipped over.
You cannot use this form to ask for a grit bin to be re-filled. We regularly check and re-fill grit bins over the winter, please bear with us - your grit bin will be re-filled soon.
You cannot use this form to request a new or replacement grit bin. When a new estate or road is built, we look at where grit bins are needed.
Can I have a grit bin for my street?
When a new estate or road is built, we look at where grit bins are needed. It is not possible to request a new grit bin.
Can a grit bin be removed?
Grit bins can sometimes attract anti-social behaviour. If this becomes an unbearable nuisance, you can request that the bin is removed. This would have to be agreed by other residents in the area.
School closures during bad weather
If it's snowing or very icy some schools may be closed - check out our school closures page.
Contact us about gritting
If you have any further questions about gritting, call us on 0121 368 1177.