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Gritters ready to keep the borough moving as temperatures drop

17 November 2021

Councillor Daniel Meredith standing in front of parked gritting lorries.

Teams at Rochdale Borough Council are ready to hit the road to tackle ice, sleet, flooding and snow this winter. The gritting programme started in October 2021 and 8 gritters are on standby to help keep the borough's main roads safe.

Over 4,000 tonnes of salt are ready for spreading when temperatures drop, at the council depot on Princess Street.

The council monitors forecasts and road conditions, ready to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when needed through to the middle of April 2022. Over 200 miles of roads are salted during one round of complete gritting – over 50 per cent of the borough's total road network and there are more than 20 drivers on standby.

Staff receive regular weather forecasts with information about road surface temperatures and the likelihood of ice. This is monitored alongside a computerised ice detection system, cameras and weather stations at Blackstone Edge, Middleton Road and Edenfield Road in Norden which record road and air temperatures as well as showing live roadside images. The council also uses automatic gritting technology, which spreads exactly the amount of grit required.

Residents are being advised to make sure they are ready to deal with icy and wet conditions, as well as the simple things they can do to keep warm, healthy and safe during winter. This includes making sure vehicles are ready for severe weather, that you have the right equipment to stay safe and know how to drive in extreme weather conditions. Even when roads and footways are gritted, it is still possible for ice to form so drivers and pedestrians should always take care.

You can help the council's winter maintenance teams by making sure you leave enough room for gritters to get past when you park up.

Councillor Meredith at the wheel of a gritting lorry.  

'Working in the toughest of conditions'

Anyone who lives or has a business in an area which is prone to flooding can register with the Environment Agency for advance warnings of any flood danger. 

Councillor Daniel Meredith, cabinet member for highways said the council was well prepared to tackle the winter weather as always, and will do all they can to minimise disruption:

"We really do have fantastic people protecting the borough this winter and I'd like to thank them for all the work they'll be doing to keep things moving and to keep us safe. With unpredictable weather and high rural terrain to contend with they are often working in the toughest of conditions. That said, we still all need to do our bit by taking extra care in icy conditions and allowing extra time for journeys. Gritting is carried out to prevent the formation of ice on the road however we can't guarantee every treated surface will be free of ice so it's important to make sure you drive to the road conditions and please slow down. If conditions are poor, and journeys are not essential, consider waiting until the weather gets better."

Councillor Meredith added that it's also important to look out for elderly or vulnerable neighbours:

"There's also the wider implications of bad weather in local communities and we actively encourage residents to be good neighbours looking out for more vulnerable residents. An offer to help could make all the difference to someone who cannot get out on their own, so please do consider how you can help with things like essential shopping or picking up prescriptions."

Councillor Daniel Meredit with a shovel in front of a large pile of gritting salt.

When temperatures drop and snow or ice is forecast, gritting teams carry out precautionary gritting and snow clearing, with ploughs fitted to all vehicles when necessary. The council also has over 500 salt bins around the borough in areas where particularly difficult conditions exist.

Tips for driving in extreme weather

  1. Allow extra time for your journey.
  2. Make sure you have enough fuel.
  3. Check your battery is good.
  4. Check your tyres are suitable.
  5. Carry a shovel in your boot.
  6. Carry a bit of rock salt (available from builder's merchants).
  7. Don't over-rev the engine or your wheels will spin. You may need to set off in second gear to avoid skidding.
  8. Use as high a gear as possible to improve grip.
  9. Build your speed up slowly on hills.
  10. Always brake gently and in plenty of time.
  11. Don't block junctions or roundabouts.
  12. Keep more distance than usual from the car in front. You may need 10 times the normal gap.
  13. If you see a gritter, stay well back because salt or spray can be thrown across the road. Do not overtake unless it is safe to do so, there may be uncleared snow on the road ahead.
  14. Give cyclists more space.
  15. Keep a look out for pedestrians, particularly at zebra crossings, pelican crossings and outside schools.
  16. Push broken down vehicles off the carriageway. Abandoned cars are one of the main obstacles which get in the way of snow ploughs.