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Councils 'ready for icy blasts'


Northern Ireland's roads are set to be salted on Tuesday evening.

Northern Ireland's roads are set to be salted on Tuesday evening.

Northern Ireland's roads are set to be salted on Tuesday evening.

Councils are promising road users that they are ready for any icy blasts this winter, with around 1.3 million tonnes of salt stockpiled.

Despite funding cutbacks, as many as 91% of local authorities in England and Wales are either maintaining or increasing salt stock levels this winter, a survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) showed.

The survey also showed that 49% of councils were planning to share salt supplies when necessary with neighbouring authorities this winter.

A quarter will share gritting machinery and a fifth will share staff, while three quarters are planning to use Twitter to provide live updates to residents and businesses on gritting activity.

The LGA said quad bikes will be used to grit pavements and town centre footways while the majority of councils are now using GPS technology to guide their gritters to prioritise routes and avoid duplication.

Community grit bins will be filled by 83% of councils so members of the public can access salt.

Snow volunteers continue to be recruited across the country to help spread grit on pavements and paths with park staff, street cleaners and farmers primed to join the community efforts to keep roads and paths clear of snow and ice.

LGA transport spokesman Peter Box said: "Last winter may have been dominated by flooding and mild temperatures but there is no room for complacency when it comes to being prepared for a cold winter given how unpredictable the weather can be in this country.

"Local government funding has been cut by 40% and pressure on vital services continues to grow. However, preparing for winter remains a top priority and that is why councils have stockpiled 1.3 million tonnes of salt and are ready to deploy a fleet of state-of-the-art gritters."

RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: "Motorists would do well to take a leaf out of the local authorities' book and spend some time this weekend or over the next week doing their own winter preparations on their cars otherwise they might find themselves having to deal with a breakdown rather than getting easily to their chosen destinations."