Snow: How Calderdale Council plans to keep roads in Halifax, Elland, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse, Todmorden and Sowerby Bridge clear during winter weather
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In all, 620km of roads – about half the entire network – are gritted in Calderdale, 12,000 tonnes of salt stock is held in a salt barn in readiness, and a weather station, situated high up at Pecket Well, does much to guide what the council does and when.
Running from October 1 to May 1, the service has four decision makers and six supervisors – each working as a pair covering a 24-hour period each day, with drivers and vehicles spread throughout Calderdale, scrutiny councillors heard.
For precautionary gritting, the authority has three nine-square metre bulk gritters, nine six-square metre bulk gritters, two three-square metre bulk gritters, five six-square metre tractor trailer gritters and three four-square metre tractor trailer gritters at its disposal.
Additional vehicles available in snowy conditions include two six-square metre gritters as depot back ups, 17 tractor snow ploughs, three self-propelled snow blowers and six tractor mounted snow blowers, said officers.
Although not usually hitting the road until a specific point in the year, the summer sees planning, team meetings, servicing and calibration of the weather station and checking of all contractor vehicles and paperwork, as well as contracts being reviewed and tendered as appropriate, councillors heard.
Routes are designed so gritters can treat both directions within a one-hour period. A decision chart evaluates which roads are gritted.
Study of detailed winter forecasts and information from weather stations then uses an agreed procedure to decide actions.
All salt bins and, in more rural or remote areas, salt piles are checked and topped up from November, to be completed by Christmas.
Levels in these are monitored – for economic efficiency full bin and pile refills are only done as a whole operation.
There is a scoring matrix used to assess any new salt bin requests, councillors were told.
The council’s assistant director for Strategic Infrastructure, Adrian Gill, said: “We are very confident we have a robust policy and plan, and procedures for operating that plan.”