Lincolnshire

Council ploughs ahead with gritting savings

Lincolnshire County Council plans to save costs from the winter roads budget by making gritting bin refills ‘only when necessary’.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Scrutiny committee examined how the authority would maintain its 2,100 grit bins as part of a report on its winter maintenance plan.

The plans will see the bins fully stocked county-wide by October, with refills then carried out as-and-when requested.

Currently, workers regularly visit every bin in the county during the winter and assess stock levels on arrival. The council estimates however, that one third of bins don’t need refilling – a waste of fuel and workers’ time.

The committee was told that one gang restocks every single one of the bins at a cost of £80,500 across over 140 days (£575 per day) – however, it was estimated that in reality only 2/3 grit bins would need refilling, costing £54,050.

The changes will see responsibility for requesting a refill be given to specific groups, including councils, residents associations or educational establishments.

A ‘scoring’ system’ the council currently uses could be changed so that bins on its planned ‘severe’ network will take higher priority than those on its ‘non-gritted’ network.

The council said the changes will help avoid ‘excessive demands’, promote efficiency and reduce the number of refill requests received.

Committee chairman Mike Brookes said the changes would not affect gritting negatively.

He said: “We will continue to look after the gritting network and give it high priority.

“It’s not the idea to restrict the grit bins,” he reassured residents, particularly when asked if the new scoring system could see bins taken away.

“This is just doing it more efficiently and doing it when they do need filling, not visiting every bin automatically and trying to get round them all because you’ll be visiting lots of bins that don’t need filling.”

The new plans also formalise the process for severe weather like the ‘Beast from the East’.

The council currently grits around 33 per cent of roads, more than the national average, with particular attention given to utilities and access routes to towns and villages.

A planned ’triage’ system of responses for severe weather will see the council in the first instance tackle a ‘resilient network’ which will grit and clear ‘critical’ routes and infrastructure across the county.

This will then move to tackling the council’s precautionary salting network of 43 roads and then severe weather routes.