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Getting ready for the big chill

big chillPEMBROKESHIRE County Council is gearing up for the cold winter months ahead.

The Council’s transportation team is preparing its winter road plan to cope with whatever the weather brings. Although last year’s winter weather was relatively mild, Council gritters were still in action for 65 days.

The year before was exceptionally severe with gritters out for over 100 days and maintenance staff working the whole of the festive season – including Christmas Day itself.

This year the Council has stockpiled 7,000 tonnes of salt/grit – with a further 1,000 tonnes in reserve – ready to use on the County’s busiest roads should temperatures take a dive.

Staff are on standby 24 hours a day seven days a week to enable them to respond to emergency situations at short notice.

“We are determined to keep the county moving whatever the weather,” said Councillor Rob Lewis, Cabinet Member for Transportation.

“We prepare as much as we can but at the end of the day it’s impossible to predict exactly what the winter weather will bring.

“We hope to have a mild winter, but if it is not to be, then we are ready for the worst.”

Over winter the Council subscribes to a dedicated weather forecasting service and is also able to monitor data from a number of weather stations in the region including three in Pembrokeshire and a further eight in neighbouring authorities.Sensors installed at these outstations store and relay vital information such as air and road surface temperatures as well as wind speed.

A dedicated winter maintenance duty officer is also in place – including out of hours and at weekends- to monitor and plan for bad weather and coordinate the council’s response to it.

A team of 39 trained drivers will be on standby ready to respond should conditions take a turn for the worse. At their disposal they have one rotary snow plough (snow blower), 16 straight ploughs, five purpose built gritters, 11 demountable gritters and two trailer spreaders – plus access to additional snow clearing equipment from private contractors if needed.

Should temperatures start to dip towards freezing they will cover 11 primary salting routes across the county as a precaution.

Once these main routes have been completed they will tackle a network of secondary routes.

“During periods of snow and low temperatures it is policy is to give priority to key routes – ie those with high levels of traffic flow and then treat secondary routes as quickly as resources allow,” said Councillor Lewis.

Pembrokeshire has 120km of Trunk Road and 2,459km of county roads in total and ensures that all trunk roads and all class 1 and more heavily used or strategic class 2 and 3 roads are covered- 594km in total.

One treatment of the County’s primary gritting network (approximately 600km) uses on average about 75 tonnes of grit/salt.

Information about any disruption to services – including snow and ice – can be found on the council’s website: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/serviceclosures

People can also stay up to date during bad weather conditions by:-

• Registering for school and Cleddau Bridge closure alerts – www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/alerts
• “Like” us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/pembrokeshirecountycouncil
• “Follow” us on Twitter www.twitter.com/pembrokeshire