With the recent torrential rain and gales across the Highlands, summer seems like a distant memory.
And now councils are planning ahead for the coming months as they reveal their winter maintenance policies.
Despite increasing financial pressures on cash strapped local authorities, Highland and Argyll and Bute Councils are both keeping winter maintenance budgets the same as last year.
This season’s Highland Council budget is £4.98million while in smaller Argyll and Bute it is £1.65m.
Highland will start winter with around 60,000 tonnes of salt in stock, the same as last year, while Argyll goes into winter with approaching 15,000 tonnes, 3,000 more than last year.
More salt can be shipped in if and when it is needed.
There are again 105 frontline gritting vehicles in Highland while Argyll’s fleet remains at 40.
Councillor Ellen Morton, Policy Lead for Roads and Amenity Services in Argyll and Bute Council, said: “Despite the financial challenges the council faces we recognise that winter maintenance is a vital service which is why we have, as we did last year, made an extra £500,000 available, meaning we have a budget of around £1,650,000 to keep Argyll and Bute moving during the winter months.
”With a robust winter maintenance policy again in place, a fleet of 40 vehicles, a salt stockpile approaching 15,000 tonnes and 12 road surface and weather monitoring stations, Argyll and Bute Council will be ready for winter.
”When freezing conditions are forecast there are 31 priority routes which are pre-treated, or just over 750 miles of the road network; roughly equivalent to driving from Lochgilphead to Paris.
”Priority routes are chosen to maintain transport connections for as many communities as possible and fall into four categories, with the first three being pre-treated as required.”
Highland Council has recently advertised its “Winter Services Tender”.
A spokeswoman for Highland said: “It is aimed at local suppliers, throughout Highland, who may wish to offer their services to the council during extreme weather events.
“We are aiming to target groups such as the farming community and small private contractors who can assist us with such tasks as snow clearing and the salting of school car parks, access paths and other public areas.
“This resource will be in addition to the core service provided by the council but will only be called upon when weather conditions dictate. Clearly if we endure a particularly mild winter we may not call upon these services at all.”