As Hitchin's weather turns colder gritters spread 12.5 tonnes of salt on Herts roads last winter
By Layth Yousif
24th Sep 2020 | Local News
As the early autumn weather turns colder ahead of winter gritters took to Hertfordshire's highways 56 times last year – spreading 12.5 tonnes of salt on 1,553 miles of the county's roads.
That's just above the five-year average of annual gritting outings in the county – despite a change that meant gritters now wait until road temperatures are colder before going out.
The data was reported to a meeting of the county council's highways and environment cabinet panel this month, where councillors were asked to consider gritting plans for the coming winter.
Councillors were told that last year (2019-20) the winter season had been "slightly colder than previous winters", but that there had been "no snow events".
Gritting was triggered only when road temperatures were forecast to drop to -0.5C – even though in previous years 1C would be the trigger temperature.
And councillors were told that had the previous level been in place last year a further 11 'runs' would have been triggered.
The report also highlights the problems caused by parked cars on narrower streets during night-time gritting.
In some cases last winter – where roads could not be treated with a 'conventialnal' the vehicle-mounted gritter – the report says the council used smaller gritters, with a second member of staff acting as a 'banks' person.
But, says the report, this approach had to stop when social distancing restrictions were implemented, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report also highlights the testing of gritter tracking last winter.
And it says there are hopes to provide gritter tracking on the county council website this year – showing where the gritter is and a 'snail trail' of where it has been.
The winter service budget for 2020/21 is reported to be £3.49m.
The 'winter service operational plan' was backed by the cabinet panel and will now be passed to a meeting of the county council's cabinet for approval