Weather sparks winter review

NEW barns could be erected across Northumberland to stockpile salt to cope with any heavy snowfall in future, as part of a review of the county council’s winter services policy.

At the Area Committee North meeting on Monday night, it was agreed to make changes to the existing strategy in response to the Arctic conditions last November and December, which caused havoc on the region’s roads.

The episode prompted the Department for Transport to write to all English local authorities requesting them to review their level of salt use and remind them of good practice guidance on winter response arrangements, which were adopted by the council’s executive on December 23.

Area management teams are about to contact town and parish councils to begin a process of gathering information on hot spots and major areas of concern arising from the last spell of bad weather, to help improve the service.

But there will also be a review of the fleet of winter service vehicles, with a shift to the use of more multi-purpose machines and the adapting of some non-winter vehicles to assist during severe weather events.

And salt storage will be reviewed, with a move away from uncovered sites, which leads to the salt deteriorating prior to spreading, to new agricultural-style barns.

Officers are looking for capital funds to cover existing salt stores, as well as the establishment of new sites to improve resilience and avoid shortages, while an inventory of grit bins will also be taken to ensure they are placed in the best locations.