Changes to gritting Derbyshire’s roads proposed

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Councillors at Derbyshire County Council will consider today proposals to change the way Derbyshire’s roads are gritted.

The county council currently grits around half of Derbyshire’s roads – 1,555 out of 3,300 miles.

Following severe winter weather over the past two years, proposals have been drawn up to:

* make gritting Derbyshire’s roads easier to manage

* help prevent overspending the winter maintenance budget

* clear snow from more of the county’s roads

* make better use of our resources

Changes the council’s Cabinet members will consider include:

* Splitting the gritting network into two categories – primary and secondary – and adding a new third ‘tertiary’ category

* Offering a minimum annual payment of £200 to external contractors, such as farmers, for help with gritting and snow clearance.

If the proposals are approved in principal, councillors will also be asked to approve a public consultation asking people for their views on the new system and what types of roads are classified as primary, secondary and tertiary routes.

The proposed routes are:

* Primary – Around 60% of roads currently on gritting routes – approximately 1,000 miles – made up of major roads including all A roads and heavily used B roads, major bus routes, roads linking towns and larger villages and roads outside bus, train, police, fire and ambulance stations and hospitals.

Where possible, at least one route into villages and at least one route no more than 500m from schools would be included.

Roads within residential areas would generally not be included. When snow or ice is forecast, primary routes would be ‘pre-treated’ before the bad weather hit and gritting would continue 24 hours a day if necessary, as at present.

* Secondary – Around 40% of roads currently on gritting routes -- approximately 550 miles – including some bus routes not covered in the primary network, particularly in residential areas, and roads to smaller villages. Well-used main roads through housing estates and villages would also be included. These roads would only be treated in the day with the first run being completed by mid-morning. This will help overcome problems of manoeuvring around cars parked on residential roads at night. When snow or ice is forecast, they would be pre-treated before bad weather hit, where possible, but primary routes will take priority.

* Tertiary – These are roads which we do not currently cover. It would mainly involve snow clearance carried out by external contractors such as farmers. They would include at least one route to isolated villages, not already covered on the gritting network, roads to industrial areas and roads to schools not covered on primary and secondary routes.

Existing arrangements for district and borough councils gritting pavements in town centres on the county council’s behalf will continue this year and talks are ongoing to try and enhance this service There are more than 200 town and parish councils in Derbyshire and the county council has written to each of them asking for help gritting and clearing snow from pavements in their areas.

Councillor Spencer said: “During really bad and prolonged winter weather, it’s extremely difficult to provide an effective gritting service under the current system of covering all gritting routes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It’s also a very costly system and at a time when funds are becoming increasingly tight we needed to look at ways to grit Derbyshire’s roads more efficiently and effectively.

“Last year we spent £4.5 million on gritting and snow clearance – an over spend of £1 million.

“This year there’s £4.5 million available but we can’t afford to overspend again. These improvements will ensure we are maximising the impact of the limited resources we have available.”

* The county council is calling on farmers and other external contractors to help keep Derbyshire’s roads clear of snow this winter. Anyone who thinks they may be interested in taking part can register online at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/winterhelp or Call Derbyshire on 08456 058 058 or 01629 533190 for further details when they become available.