North Yorkshire well prepared for winter challenges

Gritters keeping North Yorkshire's roads safe.
Gritters keeping North Yorkshire's roads safe.

North Yorkshire is well prepared to keep the county on the move and to keep elderly and disabled people safe and well during winter weather.

The county has been at the ready as temperatures have plummeted during the current spell of wintry conditions.

Highways gritting teams have been geared up for the challenge of wintry weather on the county’s 5,800 miles of roads since October

The £7m winter maintenance budget sees 54% of the roads gritted on one of England’s largest and in places most remote road networks. Eight new replacement gritters have been added to the fleet, making a total of 86, and there are 111 farm contractors, five road snowblowers and seven footpath snowblowers.

North Yorkshire County Council started the winter with 55,000 tons of salt stocks in its barns and 8,000 grit heaps and bins and throughout the winter we replenish these stocks so they are currently at the same level. Gritters are on call 24 hours a day, farmer contractors, duty managers and overnight patrols are all on standby and overnight patrols are in operation when necessary.

Farmer contractors have already been out to clear snowfall in the North York Moors over Blakey Ridge this week.

County Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for highways, said: “Coping with severe winter weather on a big road network is a complex operation, but it is a top priority to keep the county on the move.

“We will grit as required to keep our highways open. Our first priority is major routes which connect or go through the county’s towns and we will clear these before moving on to our second level of priority routes which give access to smaller communities.

“While we do everything we can to keep traffic moving during severe winter weather, it is important for drivers to drive with caution and consider whether their journey is absolutely necessary.”

The county council uses the latest weather forecasting technology in planning its gritting operations. This includes ice prediction weather stations, a 24-hour weather forecast and road temperature sensor data.

During gritting operations, updates will be posted on the council’s Twitter account and Facebook page. Follow @northyorkscc or #nygrit and https://www.facebook.com/northyorkscc for more.

Looking out for the elderly and disabled

The county council is asking neighbours and friends to look out for elderly and disabled friends and family members as temperatures continue to plummet in the coming days.

The council, along with health partners, has advised people to prepare for wintry weather by making sure they are warm enough at home by keeping rooms heated to more than 18 degrees Celsius.

Living in a cold home leads to thousands of excess winter deaths each year and often makes medical conditions worse. People are still being encouraged to get a flu jab to take them through the remaining wintry months.

The county council has, in partnership with Citizen’s Advice, also commissioned a warm and well service, which offers support to people worried about winter, living in cold homes or struggling to pay bills. The service offers a single point of contact – 01609 767555 – for any North Yorkshire resident with concerns about winter or needing help.

The council’s care teams prioritise visits during bad weather and have access to 4 x 4 vehicles if necessary to access elderly and disabled people needing care even in remote places.

“We are well-rehearsed and ready for wintry conditions in order to prioritise care for our most vulnerable residents,” said County Cllr Michael Harrison, executive member for adult social care and health integration.

“We work with all our partners, care providers, the NHS, family and friends as well as our own care teams to ensure that even those in the most remote areas are supported to stay safe and well.”

The council’s Living Well service is also working to help people during the current spell of cold weather.

During severe weather the service checks that every person who is open to Living Well is safe, warm and has the resources needed, such as milk and bread.