Does Carmarthenshire have enough salt this winter?The council will have 14,500 tonnes of salt in stock at the start of the season – double the amount compared to four years ago - most of which is stored under cover in salt barns. Although that sounds like a lot, the council can use up to 1,000 tonnes a day with continuous gritting during severe ice and snow. We can never say that we will have enough salt because we do not know what the winter will bring, however, we are very well prepared with the recommended resilience levels met.
Carmarthenshire is part of the Wales salt cell which determines deliveries to local authorities on a needs basis during difficult times.
Is the council prepared for the cold weather?
Yes, we have a well developed Winter Maintenance Plan which identifies priorities and how they are dealt with. At the start of every winter we are fully stocked with supplies and we top them up when required. The plan is reviewed every year.
The council receives daily updates from Meteogroup on weather and conditions as well as two to five day forecasts and up to 15 days range forecast.
What hours do the gritting teams work? Is it a 24-hour operation?
There is 24-hour availability, seven days a week. Gritting teams go out at times that are dependent on the weather including late night and during the early hours of the morning. We grit around 1040 kilometres in one shift, that’s 30 per cent of the road network in Carmarthenshire.
Where does the council get its salt from?
We are supplied by Salt Union, a company based in Cheshire, which supplies a large number of local authorities in Wales and the UK as a whole. We work regionally in collaboration with Welsh Government and other local authorities to maintain supplies.
Why doesn’t the council grit every street?
It would be impossible to grit every street in the county. Trunk and principal routes are given priority; this includes roads leading to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations, railway stations, bus garages, important bus routes, slip roads, and historically problematic sections.
In extreme conditions, secondary priority is given to shopping streets, historically problematic sections (not on the first priority routes) and other bus routes.
I'm sure residents understand that the most important thing when supplies are under pressure is to keep the main roads clear in the interests of emergency services, bus services, continuity of food and fuel supplies and to minimise the risk of accidents.
We also respond to emergencies and we will tackle side roads when prevailing weather conditions and salt supplies permit.
Why was a gritter lorry going along the road but not treating it?
Our gritters follow a detailed route, so that they can grit the primary roads within a specific area. When designing this detailed route we take into account the length of road that the gritter can treat when it has been fully loaded with salt. To maximise efficiency and reduce the time taken to salt the roads, the gritter has to travel across some intersecting roads to be able to salt the primary roads. It is not feasible to salt these intersecting roads as the gritter would not have sufficient salt to treat the primary roads.
The gritter may be empty and returning to the depot after completing its run.
When the gritter lorry is using its snow ploughs, salt is not always applied.
Why don’t you grit pavements?
We don’t routinely salt footpaths or pavements. We have to prioritise major roads rather than pavements to prevent the most serious accidents. Hand salting of pavements will only be carried out if staff and equipment become available, with pavements in main shopping areas and busy urban areas treated as a priority. We encourage householders and businesses to help themselves by clearing snow and ice from public areas near their properties.
Can we have a grit bin?
We currently have 1,100 grit bins across the county. We do not provide additional grit bins, but we do work with town and community councils and residents’ associations to review the locations of grit bins. We inspect and fill all of our grit bins in the autumn. If there is snow, the bins will only be re-filled if staff and equipment become available to undertake the work. The salt should be used very sparingly, as it does not aid grip but is supplied to assist in preventing the formation of ice and melting of snow. It is provided for use only on public roads and pavements, and should not be used or transported anywhere else. We do not refill grit bins on demand.