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Highland Council moves to assure public that winter gritters will still be out in force despite Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic lockdown

By Philip Murray

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A gritter takes to the roads of North Kessock. Picture: Gary Anthony.
A gritter takes to the roads of North Kessock. Picture: Gary Anthony.

LOCKDOWN will not hit vital gritting work this winter, Highland Council has vowed.

It moved to reassure communities that its winter gritting teams "are continuing to work extremely hard throughout the area during the current lockdown, providing a road and pavement gritting service following the council’s policy on prioritisation of routes".

It has invested in 10 new winter gritting vehicles to replace some of the ageing ones – bringing the winter fleet to 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors, and one snowblower.

There are also more than 200 staff who work to spread around 50,000 tonnes of salt on Highlands roads and pavements in a typical winter.

And, this year, the council has also vowed to extend coverage where possible in a bid to reduce ice-related injuries – and help ease pressure on the NHS at a time when it is under increasing strain from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The local authority said it wanted to do everything it can to reduce the pressure on the NHS from those suffering from falls or slips due to winter weather.

It is extending coverage where possible by bringing in additional council resources to enhance services related to pavement gritting. In addition, and as in previous years, the council is also offering assistance to communities who wish to take action in their own area to help clear snow and ice from footpaths by providing salt, snow shovels and pushers, as well as safety equipment.

Trish Robertson, chairwoman of the council’s economy and infrastructure committee, said: “The council is working hard to deliver our winter gritting services despite the challenges that the COVID pandemic is putting in front of us.

"Recognising the challenges being faced by the NHS, we want to do as much as possible to avoid the risk of slips and falls, and allow people to be able to get out and about as much as possible.

"If communities are able to assist in providing enhanced or more localised services, there is an opportunity for salt to be delivered to locations along with equipment to assist in spreading.

"The link on the council’s website gives further information, and I would urge any community or resilience groups who have capacity to help to get in touch and our local teams will help advise on appropriate locations for salt storage.”

Details of the council’s gritting policies and maps are on its website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting. You can also find full guidance and an application form here.

Communities are asked to help identify the most suitable locations for these by either completion of the form on the web-site, or by contacting the following addresses:

  • Caithness – Roads.Caithness@highland.gov.uk
  • Sutherland – Roads.Sutherland@highland.gov.uk
  • Lochaber – Roads.LNBS@highland.gov.uk
  • Ross and Cromarty – Roads.RossandCromarty@highland.gov.uk
  • Skye & Lochalsh – Roads.SkyeandLochalsh@highland.gov.uk
  • Inverness – Roads.Inverness@highland.gov.uk
  • Nairn – Roads.LNBS@highland.gov.uk
  • Badenoch & Strathspey – Roads.LNBS@highland.gov.uk

Related news: Treacherous conditions after overnight snow and ice

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