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Winter maintenance plan approved for Sutherland roads

19th November 2018

The priorities by which The Highland Council will grit roads across Sutherland this winter have been approved by Councillors.

Twenty three gritters and 4 footpath tractors all with dedicated routes are on standby to treat a road network of 534km primary routes (40%), 248km of secondary routes (19%) and 554km of other routes (41%) in the area.

Primary routes are treated first, followed by secondary routes and crews will only move on to treat other roads when the primary and secondary routes are all completed. Exception to this will be where a gritter has to travel across a secondary or other route to treat a higher priority road.

The routes have been set within the context of the Council's current Winter Maintenance Policy which is in place to ensure a consistent level of service is applied across all areas of the Highlands. Each year local areas put in place their Winter Maintenance Plan to cover the operational details in order to deliver a service locally within existing budget and resources.

A difference this year is the equalisation of the winter service on Saturdays and Sundays.

At the August meeting of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee it was agreed to provide the same level of treatment on Saturdays and Sundays. As the winter maintenance budget remains the same, the members of the Sutherland Committee want people to be aware that this year Saturday service is reduced and the Sunday service increased.

On both days the weekend service will start at 6am for both primary and secondary routes excluding school transport routes and can continue to 9pm. There are no changes to the service from Monday to Friday from previous years. Maps of the routes for weekend service and week day service are available on the council’s website

A team of 49 members of staff in Sutherland will be delivering winter maintenance supported by staff from the Amenity, Streets and Waste team to support the footpath treatment. A standby system will be in place to ensure sufficient drivers are available to cover weekend.

The average annual usage of salt to treat council roads in Sutherland is approximately 6,000 and there is sufficient salt in stock spread across depots to meet this requirement.

As in previous years, over the winter a Duty Officer rota will be in place to ensure that there is always a qualified and experienced member of staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take decisions on the deployment of appropriate resources to deal with prevailing weather conditions.

As agreed at a recent Ward Business Meeting, given the geographical area of Sutherland during adverse weather, treatments on some of the following routes will start at 5am at the discretion of the senior officer - the A897, A838, A838, A847, A839, A949, B869 and the B873

Chair of the Committee, Councillor Richard Gale said: "The message is that we are as prepared as we can be for winter and along with our Trunk Road partners, our staff will be working hard to keep the considerable network of roads open and safe for people to use.

“All road users need to be aware of the changes this year to the weekend service and consider the timings of treatments when planning their journeys. I would like to also remind everyone that we all have a duty to take responsibility for our own personal safety. We need to be well prepared before driving in winter weather and drive according to the conditions and be aware that these can change quickly."

Throughout the coming winter Sutherland councillors will monitor the agreed plan to make sure cover is available for any changes in weather using the existing resources to the best effect.

Details of the Sutherland priority routes and winter services information can be found by visiting the council’s website

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