Concerns Sheffield will have grit shortage this winter after Brexit and Covid-19 raised

Liberal Democrat councillors have raised concern about Sheffield Council’s preparedness for winter weather following Brexit and Covid-19.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 1:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 1:09 pm
A Sheffield Gritter pictured in the Salt Store. Picture: Marie Caley

The opposition party urged Labour and Green coalition leaders to make sure the city does not suffer from grit and lorry shortages following the national fuel crisis and shortages in lorry drivers.

Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Sangar said: “To keep our roads open and safe we need certain supplies to keep coming and we want the council to do everything it can to make sure they get what they need to keep things running as smoothly as possible.

“This could be providing storage to stock up on the grit itself or doing what it can to keep enough drivers ready to go when grit is needed on the road.

“There have already been concerns raised in the national press about shortages of gritting lorry drivers, we are simply asking Sheffield Council to try and get ahead of the issue.”

He was due to question leaders about this at this month’s full council meeting but it was postponed because the council could not find a venue in time.

Coun Sangar added: “The council must do everything possible to keep our essential services operating, this is one of its core services.

“With the gritters already out this year the issues could be coming to a head soon. The council needs to make sure it has enough drivers in place to grit our roads fully when needed. The hilly nature of our city makes this critical to the safety of road users everywhere.”

How prepared is Sheffield Council for winter?

October 1 marks the start of the winter service – run by Amey for the council – which runs until April 30.

A fleet of gritters and workers are on standby 24 hours a day to tackle icy conditions.

Wayne Southall, manager of Amey’s winter operations in Sheffield said last winter was one of the busiest in recent years and their teams completed more than 120 gritting runs, spreading more than 14,000 tonnes of grit on the city’s roads.

Mr Southall said: “We don’t yet know what weather to expect in coming months, but we want Sheffield residents to rest assured that we will work around the clock to keep the city moving safely, through all conditions.

“During snow events, there’s always a real sense of community across Sheffield. And with over 2,200 grit bins, we would encourage residents to make use of local grit supplies when pavements become icy.”

Mr Southall said Sheffield’s two salt barns hold a total of 15,000 tonnes of grit – equivalent to filling an entire football stadium up to head height.

He said all of the gritters seen on the city’s roads – which spread grit and plough before, during and after it snows – are between 18 and 23 tonnes each which is about the same size as a bin lorry or fire engine.

More than 60 percent of the highways network is gritted and this is done in priority order, starting with main routes linking Sheffield to other major cities and motorways.

The team is constantly looking out for signs of bad weather so it can react quickly.