Highways teams ready to keep Richmondshire roads clear of ice and snow this winter

• County Council Leader Cllr Carl Les with the gritter that took part in the UCI publicity caravan.

North Yorkshire’s highways says its gritting teams are ready for the challenge of keeping the district’s road clear of ice and snow this winter

The fleet of 85 gritters will be supported by 107 farm contractors, five road snowblowers and seven footpath snowblowers.

Officials say salt stocks in the council’s barns are at capacity at 55,000 tons and, in addition, there are 8,000 grit heaps and bins.

Gritters are on call 24 hours a day. Last year, 6,287 routes were treated.

Among the gritter fleet this year will be the 18-tonne rainbow vehicle bedecked in the colours of the UCI and sporting the slogan ‘North Yorkshire Salt of the Earth’ that featured in the publicity caravan at last month’s UCI Road World Championships.

The gritter will treat rural routes in the Upper Dales; which officials say is a legacy of the World Championships and a tribute to the gritty resilience of the Upper Dales communities that led an inspiring recovery from the summer’s devastating floods.

Due to the varied nature of North Yorkshire’s road network, the county employs different kinds of gritters to offer the widest range of options for timely treatment.

Alongside four-wheel-drive vehicles, which offer the manoeuvrability needed for the county’s many minor roads and make up the majority of the fleet, there are 16 six-wheel-drive gritters that offer 50 per cent more salt capacity and three small 7.5-tonne gritters for locations other gritters cannot reach due to weight or size restrictions.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “Coping with severe winter weather on such an extensive road network is a complex operation, but it’s a top priority for us to keep the county on the move. That’s why we place the highest priority on our winter maintenance budget. This is a service that matters to everyone who lives and works in the county.

“We grit whenever necessary to keep our roads open. Our first priority is the major routes that connect or pass through the county’s towns. We clear these before moving on to our second level of priority routes, those that give access to smaller communities.

“While we do all we can to help traffic to keep moving during winter weather, it is important for drivers to drive with caution and to consider whether their journey is necessary.”

The County Council uses the latest weather forecasting technology in planning its gritting operations. This includes ice prediction weather stations, a 24-hour weather forecast and road temperature sensor data.

Further information, including road cameras, maps and a series of videos in which those involved in gritting the county’s roads explain the operation, can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/gritting.

Gritting operations updates are posted on the council’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Follow @northyorkscc or #nygrit and https://www.facebook.com/northyorkscc.

Advice for drivers about preparing for winter driving can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/safe-winter-driving