Changes to weekend gritting on Lochaber roads

Highland Council is all set for tackling the worst of the coming winter

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The Highland Council says it is ready for winter and prepared to grit Lochaber’s roads as its winter maintenance programme started on October 14.

Trunk roads in Highland are the responsibility of Transport Scotland and their operators Bear Scotland.

Changes to this year’s winter maintenance policy include an equalisation of the gritting service at weekends.

The service will now begin 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.

And the council confirmed it has adequate salt stocks for the region of 45,000 tonnes for the start of the main winter season and that there are no concerns about future provision of deliveries from the council’s supplier.

The total salt usage for last winter 2017/18 was 81,000 tonnes, which was around 32 per cent (£2.3million) 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 morethan 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.

Following extreme freezing conditions on pavements last winter – this season, assurance has given by the council’s director of community services that a formal escalation procedure will be adopted when severe conditions are forecast or experienced with immediate mobilisation of all available manual staff across community services to assist.

This year (2018/19) the council has made provision for the replacement of 18 vehicles in its heavy fleet; 10 of which have arrived with the remainder to be delivered by Christmas.

On completion of this latest order the council will have invested in excess of £9 million in its heavy winter fleet over the last five years.

Chairman of the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee, Councillor Allan Henderson, said the local authority has the supplies and resources in place to provide a winter service this year in the Highlands according to the council’s policy.

He said: ‘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.’

Within its winter roads maintenance budget of £5 million for 2018/19, the council is ready to salt – according to its policy – the 6,744km of roads for which the council has responsibility.