Gritters hit the roads with temperatures set to plummet over the weekend

Gritting lorries have hit the roads of the Black Country and Staffordshire as temperatures look set to plummet.

A gritter being loaded in Staffordshire
A gritter being loaded in Staffordshire

Temperatures look set to fall this weekend with some cold and patchy frost expected over the weekend – with lows of around 3C (37.4F) expected.

But council chiefs have assured people across the region gritting teams are working "around the clock" to keep roads as safe as possible for people.

It comes as Met Office experts predict the weather will continue to turn colder – with yellow weather warnings in place for wind across the country.

In Dudley, teams will grit almost 300 miles of roads in the borough – with residents asked to help to clear snow in their local area should it fall.

The "snow busters" scheme sees groups and people handed free packs – including shovels, salt spreaders and high-vis vests – to help the fight.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for public realm, said: "Our team will be out there again this winter, gritting the roads and doing all we can to keep the borough moving during periods of snow and ice, but as always we are asking everyone to drive to the conditions when cold weather hits.

"Residents can keep up to date with any affected services by signing up to our snow updates and people who want to help out in their local community, by gritting side roads and pavements during snow, can collect one of our free ‘snow busters’ packs."

Meanwhile, in Sandwell, the crew has been put on 24-hour call until mid-March and are prepared should temperatures fall close to zero or below in the coming days.

Last winter saw more than 3,000 tons of grit used on Sandwell's roads with drivers heading out 61 times to ensure the borough's roads remained as safe as possible for drivers.

And every time the gritters go out, they cover around 260 miles of Sandwell's roads and put down around 55 tons of salt.

Ian Freestone, Councillor David Williams and Steve Hussey with a gritter in Staffordshire

Sandwell Council's cabinet member for environment Councillor Ahmad Bostan said: "Our gritting crew do an incredible job, making our roads safe – often in tricky conditions and when most of us are tucked up in bed.

"I want to thank them for all of their hard work last winter and in the coming winter as they keep Sandwell moving."

And each of the borough's gritting trucks have names – Ice One, Cyrille, Dame Julie Salters, The Greatest Snow Van, Spread Zeppelin, Frozie Lawrence, Frosty the Snow Van, Melt-on John, Rule Gritannia and Ctrl+Salt+Delete.

Meanwhile, in Staffordshire, gritting crews took to the roads as temperatures plummeted – with chiefs saying teams will be pulling out "all the stops" to treat less major roads across the county.

Road conditions, weather and temperatures are being monitored from nine stations across the county and a team will make the call as to when and where to send out the gritters.

And with five depots primed for action, 20,000 tons of salt stockpiled and hill contractors ready in the higher ground, teams are well prepared for whatever the winter decides to throw at them.

Councillor David Williams, cabinet member for highways and transport at Staffordshire County Council, said: "The weather has been fairly mild up to now but with the freezing temperatures expected to continue, crews remain on standby ready to roll when needed. On a typical day, they’ll be out largely on the main roads but in prolonged ice or snow, they will be pulling out all the stops to treat less major routes across the network. The higher ground, particularly in the Staffordshire Moorlands, often takes the brunt of any snowfall but our hill contractors are ready for any challenges.

"I would also remind motorists that they have a role to play too. Regardless of whether a road has been gritted, people need to slow down, drive to the conditions and allow more time for their journeys. The most important thing is that we all get through winter safely."

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