Winter maintenance budget of £1.72m approved for 2018/2019

A total of £1.72million was agreed to be spent gritting Aberdeen’s roads and pavements for the 2018/19 winter, at the City Council’s operational delivery committee today.

The allocated budget will be increased if the weather is worse than anticipated such as what happened last year.

A report to committee about the Winter Services Plan explained that the expenditure for the previous three winters was £2.333m in 2017-18, £1.610m in 2016-17, and £1.752m in 2015-2016.

The report said a total of 11,726tonnes of salt are being purchased in advance of the 2018/19 winter. The tonnage of salt purchased, and used, in previous years was 2017/18 - 10,624 purchased and 15,321 used, 2016/17 - 10,087 purchased and 4,602 used, and 2015/16 - 10,508 purchased and 7,763 used.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokesman Councillor Ross Grant said: “It is good to see our services are ready for the oncoming winter, as our staff go above and beyond their duty to ensure our key roads and pavements are kept gritted according to which priority they are.

“We hope the oncoming winter won’t be as bad as last year’s however we are prepared if there are adverse weather conditions.”

The report to committee detailed the preparations including the city centre priority 1 pavements as set out in the Winter Services Plan are the only routes to be covered as part of the early morning operations, and these are concentrated on the city centre, shopping areas and pavements with a steep gradient. These areas are treated from Monday to Friday, from 7.45am and 3.45pm, and, at weekends, the provision is targeted at the city centre routes.

Early morning operations, if necessary, provides gritting of the 10 Priority 1 road routes and Priority 2 pavement routes from 4.45am until 3.45pm at the end of the normal working day.

The report sets out that once the Priority 1 pavements are gritted, further treatment is extended into the lower priority pavements, including those that contain some essential facilities such as hospitals, main surgeries, health centres, GP practices and schools. Pavement gritting is given additional support from other council services whose staff carry out hand spreading, especially around sheltered accommodation.

The report detailed the use of sand has not been used in Aberdeen since 2010/11 as, unlike salt, sand is not soluble in water and consequently it must be physically removed from drainage systems. The national guidance for dealing with hard packed snow and ice at temperatures below -5C sets out that salt can be mixed with sand and in Aberdeen, grit will only be used in extreme conditions at low temperatures to improve traction under foot where a layer of water has formed above ice or compacted snow.

There are currently more than 900 salt bins throughout the city based on historic requests and the policy of not issuing any additional salt bins this winter was agreed by the committee today.

A scheme was introduced, in 2012-13, to issue 1 tonne bags of salt to community groups willing to carry out self-help winter treatment, and this scheme will continue. A total of 717 valid requests were received last year and those who requested bags last year are being contacted to ascertain whether they would like to be included in this self-help provision again. There will be a cut-off date for applications of 1 November after which applications will not be processed until the following year.

The report said as the AWPR B-T nears completion, a considerable length of the current trunk road network including pavements, within the city boundary, will be de-trunked and the maintenance, including winter maintenance, of these de-trunked sections is expected to be transferred to the city council on the 1 April 2019. Work is ongoing to revise the winter routes to reduce this additional burden.

The committee also approved for the service to investigate providing equipment, training, providing personal protective equipment and technical backup for residents wanting to do more self-help in their community, similar to what is carried out in other councils. The cost of this equipment is relatively inexpensive, less than £1,000 per group.