Snow joke: lack of grit and salt.

Councils ask suppliers to prepare for another bitter winter

Published:  05 October, 2010

UK: Weathermen are predicting another bitterly cold winter. 

Forecasters are warning of widespread snow, heavy frost, ice and -20C temperatures, causing transport chaos and school closures.

They predict things will be almost as bad as in 2009 when the UK shivered through the coldest winter in 30 years.

Abvout one in five councils have not yet received all the road salt they need for the winter, according to a new poll conducted by the Local Government Association (LGA).

It highlights concerns over the resilience of the salt supply chain, since councils are dependent on just two companies for the vast majority of stock.

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, said: "Treating the roads during the past two winters has caused problems for councils because of salt suppliers being overwhelmed by demand.

"The whole country is well aware of the power of Mother Nature. Yet, as we go into another winter, a proportion of councils do not have as much salt in their storage facilities as they would like to have because the suppliers haven't provided all the stock they've asked for."

Councils are responding to this by setting up more arrangements with neighbouring councils to co-operate on supplies, and have looked into foreign sources of road salt. 

The poll also showed that around 10% of councils had an arrangement to get supplies from abroad this winter, with four local authorities setting up a deal for the first time.

The LGA's analysis and research team conducted an online survey of all councils in England and Wales that carry out winter weather gritting activities. They received a 50% response rate (87 councils). The full report is due to be published in November.

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