Improvements in weekend gritting arrangements head up Highland Council’s winter maintenance programme for 2018/19.
The service will now commence at 6am on both Saturday and Sunday (previously 7am on a Sunday), with the same length of network treated on both days. This will include treatment of all the primary routes, strategic secondary routes and difficult ‘other’ routes as resources permit.
The council is holding salt stocks of 45,000 tonnes to meet the start of the main winter season, and says it has no concerns about future deliveries from the council’s supplier.
The total salt usage for last winter 2017/18 was 81,000 tonnes, which was around 32% (£2.3m) of the overall cost of the service last year.
The winter fleet mobilisation programme is complete and includes vehicle servicing and calibration of salt spreading equipment.
The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and more than 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.
This year the council is replacing 18 vehicles in its heavy fleet; ten of which have arrived with the remainder to be delivered by Christmas.
This represents investment of more than £9 million in its heavy winter fleet over the past five years.
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If extreme icy conditions are forecast, all available manual staff from community services will mobilise to clear pavements.
Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee chairman, councillor Allan Henderson said: “Council roads and pavements are gritted as specified within the council’s agreed winter maintenance policy with the added assurance of mobilisation of extra staff this year.
“The council will continue to do what it can within its resources and policy however, I would encourage communities to come forward and apply for winter resilience assistance from the Council that will provide them with salt in grit bins or heaps and other equipment to take action in their local areas that are important to them.”
Ross and Cromarty, and Caithness Winter Maintenance Plans for 2018/19 will be set at the next Area Committee meetings on 1st and 20th November respectively.
Until those dates, the existing 2017/18 Winter Maintenance Plans for each area will be in place.